ALBANY, NY (AP) — New York Democrats will face new challenges from Republicans and will be embroiled in cross-party battles under new redistricting maps released Friday night.
A rural judge approved the maps that will replace earlier maps that the courts found violated the state Constitution and set the boundaries of political districts in New York for the next decade, giving Democrats fewer advantages in their quest for control of the United States House than they originally hoped. .
But they have staged battles between Democrats like U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, and an open battle for the newly drawn 10th congressional district that stretches from Manhattan’s Greenwich Village to Brooklyn’s Borough Park, an Orthodox Jewish enclave.
U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones, who currently represents New York’s 17th congressional district, said he would instead run in the 10th congressional district in a crowded field against competitors including former New York Mayor Bill by Blasio.
The maps produced by outside court expert Jonathan Cervas are more Republican-friendly and more competitive than previous maps drawn by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, which were rejected by an appeals court.
Cervas said he considered thousands of comments, but said some ideas aimed at holding certain racial, ethnic or geographic communities together would have had ripple effects forcing dramatic changes elsewhere that could pose constitutional problems.
But he made some changes sought after by critics: Cervas said he had inadvertently proposed dividing black communities in Brooklyn and would reverse that decision. U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn had lambasted Cervas’ original proposal.
As part of the redistricting process that takes place every 10 years, New York is set to lose one of its 27 congressional districts, eight of which are currently held by Republicans.
The maps drawn by the Democrats would have given their party a strong majority in 22 of the 26 congressional districts. The new court-approved lines create five Republican-leaning districts, up from four, and at least four other districts where Republicans would be competitive.
Republican leaders hailed the final maps on Saturday and said Democrats’ efforts to gerrymander the maps would hurt them in the November election.
The maps will be in place starting with this year’s midterm elections and will include a New York City congressional district centered on Staten Island that would be more Republican-friendly.
New York is among a number of states that have seen ongoing legal battles over its 10-year redistricting process, but one of the few states where Democrats, instead of Republicans, have been accused of drawing cards in their favor.
New York’s redistricting process was originally slated to be led by an independent commission under a process approved by voters in 2014. But the commission could not agree on a set of maps and the legislature controlled by Democrats took on the task instead, creating maps signed by Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul.
The process was then moved to a rural court, about a five-hour drive from New York City, after an appeals court of Democratic-appointed judges sided with Republican plaintiffs challenging the maps. The court rejected maps of state congressional districts and state senate races.
The process has already caused confusion for the year’s election, with primary elections for the race for governor, other statewide offices and races for the State Assembly still being held. on June 28, but the races for the United States House seats and the state Senate seats are held on August 23.
Judge Patrick McAllister faced a Friday deadline to formally approve the new maps he released earlier this week. New Yorkers sent more than 3,000 comments to the court pleading with McAllister and his out-of-state expert to make changes, especially in communities of color.
McAllister’s court held no public hearings into any complaints, despite calls from advocacy groups for more transparency and court rulings that rebuked the Democratic-led Legislature for drawing new maps in behind the scenes.
The rapid schedule is an attempt to give candidates enough time to campaign in the new districts for the already postponed Congressional and Senate primaries in August.
Some voting rights groups have called on New York to postpone the gubernatorial and state Assembly primaries from June to August as well.
Price reported from New York.