For years, Democrats have demanded that the courts play a more active role in redistricting the region. In New York, they got their wish but didn’t like the result. Last month, the state’s highest court removed Albany’s commanding seat from the U.S. House of Representatives seats, and on Monday a proposal to replace it with a special master of justice degree was announced.
From a partisan standpoint, the new plan could be more Democratic-leaning than today’s map, depending on the year. Republicans hold 30% of the House seats in New York, in the area code that President Trump shares in the 2020 vote (38%). The special master plan has 19% of the seats firmly Republican, and another 19% of the seats are competitive. In a favorable year for the GOP, that could prove fair. In a bad year, it could almost be a Republican wipeout.
Democrats are upset anyway, and one reason is that they’re counting on winning more seats through Albany’s gerrymander, who has been aggressive about cornering Republican voters a few red districts. That plan gave the GOP an advantage with only 15% of the seats. But the master in particular, a colleague of Carnegie Mellon named Jonathan Cervas, was not a partisan invader. His map looks better on neutral criteria, with more compact districts and less county splits.
Another reason Democrats oppose is that Mr. Cervas pays little attention to the conventional political goodness of the incumbent’s defense. Under his plan, several sitting House members would end up in the same territory.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Oversight Chairman Carolyn Maloney will have to give it up to get a seat in the revised Manhattan. “I look forward to joining and representing the people of the newly created District 12,” said Mr. Nadler. But Ms. Maloney appeared fearless: “I’ve never lost an election; I have no intention of starting now”.
Hakeem Jeffries, number 5 in the leadership of the House, will now be in the 9th district, ahead of Representative Yvette Clarke. He is accusing him of racism. Mr. Jeffries said the map was the product of a “special suburban boss” and a judicial supervisor, “both white men”. He called it “part of a vicious national pattern” aimed at the Black Congress Caucus, saying it “would make Jim Crow blush.” Try to keep your eyes from rolling straight away from your skull.
Sean Patrick Maloney, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he will run in the new 17th district, north of New York City. Representative Mondaire Jones, who today represents much of that terrain, complained that Mr Maloney “didn’t even let me know before he took to Twitter to make that announcement.” However, Mr. Jones will live in the 16th district, which is held by Congressman Jamaal Bowman. All are Democrats.
The GOP can be forgiven for some disdain after watching Democrats get shot by a gerrymandering boomerang. Had Albany been less explicit in trying to redistribute every drop of partisan interest, perhaps the judiciary would have been reluctant to take over the map. Instead, they broke.
The bigger point is that the redistricting of the region is inherently political. Democrats rejoice when a court in a state like North Carolina inserts itself into the drawing of congressional lines. They seem to think that the judges will create a “fairer” map. Now they are frantically trying to oppose the New York plan by Friday, which a state judge has set as a deadline for approval.
Do you think Democrats will learn anything from this episode? Neither do we.
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https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-yorks-gerrymander-boomerang-albany-special-master-redistricting-map-jonathan-cervas-democrats-11652818602 New York’s Gerrymander Boomerang – WSJ