The Democrat-controlled New York State Legislature will soon likely assume the sole authority to draw congressional districts in the state for the first time in more than 50 years if an independent commission cannot reach a consensus on district lines.
A bipartisan panel presented separate sets of maps drawn by its Republican and Democratic commissioners, plans which were voted down last week in the state Assembly and Senate. The panel has one more chance to draw lines later this month before the responsibility will fall to the state legislature, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Legislature would then be able to draw lines in favor of Democrats, which could result in as many as three or four additional seats for the party — an important shift at a time when Democrats control the house just 221 to 212.
The commission, which is active for the first time this redistricting cycle, was created with input of lawmakers from both parties and approved in a popular referendum.
The state’s current congressional lines were drawn by a federal court in 2012. New York’s 27-member House delegation includes 19 Democrats and eight Republicans. Six districts have been represented by both a Republican and Democrat over the last decade, the report said.
Strategists say one change that would benefit Democrats would be to shift the boundaries of the 11th Congressional District, which covers the heavily Republican borough of Staten Island and is currently represented by Republican Nicole Malliotakis. The district’s lines could shift to include Staten Island with areas of Brooklyn or Manhattan that are home to more Democrats.
David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report predicts that the net result of redistricting nationwide is likely to be “a wash or a slight GOP gain” as Republicans control a greater number of state legislatures. Republicans will draw maps for 187 House districts, while Democratic state lawmakers will draft lines for 75 districts.
Others are being drawn by commissions or are in states where the parties share state-government control or have just one House member.