- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

The National Organization for Women has lobbied hard, but seemingly unsuccessfully, to protect from a redistricting plan the congressional seat of a senior Democrat Louise M. Slaughter of New York.
NOW has lobbied against a plan supported by members of both parties that would pit Mrs. Slaughter against a fellow incumbent Democrat this fall: Rep. John J. LaFalce. It also would force two incumbent Republicans to square off in a new district.
New York state Assembly and Senate leaders were negotiating an agreement on the plan yesterday and could act on it today, said John McArdle, spokesman for state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. Mr. Bruno, a Republican, has been in talks with state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat.
A NOW action alert reads, "Save Louise Slaughter's Seat in Congress" and urges NOW's New York members to call the offices of Mr. Silver and Mr. Bruno. NOW also urged all its members to write to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, in opposition to the possible new plan.
"Please contact these leaders and point out that women make up only 14% of Congress, and it would be a disgrace to eliminate the seat of a long-term advocate for women's rights," the NOW action alert read.
It cited Mrs. Slaughter's 14 years as a House member and points out that she is vice-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues, sits on the "influential" Rules Committee and has fought for bills to reduce global sex-trafficking and increase the availability and affordability of child care for working families.
New York is losing two congressional seats because of population changes, and the issue of which ones will get the ax has been causing intraparty tension for months.
A court-appointed special master had come up with a redistricting plan that created two races where an incumbent Republican and an incumbent Democrat would have to run against each other.
But Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York was among those unhappy with the special master plan because it redrew her district to give her some uncertain territory, a Democratic aide from a New York congressional office who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
Under the new plan, her race is safe and she is happy, the aide said.
The master plan would force Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, a Democrat, to face Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, a Republican, and Mr. Lafalce, a Democrat, to face Rep. Jack Quinn, a Republican.
Some congressional Republicans thought the special master plan created relatively easy races for older Republicans such as Mr. Gilman who may be retiring soon anyway and tougher races for younger up-and-coming Republicans, such as Mr. Quinn, a Republican aide from a New York congressional office who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
The Republican aide said Reps. John E. Sweeney and Thomas M. Reynolds were among those Republicans unhappy with the plan because their races "would be tougher than they should be." The aide said that nationally, Republicans were concerned the special master plan would weaken efforts to keep the majority.
The Democratic aide said both Mr. Gephardt and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe contacted New York state leaders on the issue. And Mr. McArdle, spokesman for Mr. Bruno confirmed that Vice President Cheney also contacted state leaders on the issue.
Mrs. Slaughter called the new redistricting plan "laughable." Her spokeswoman, Ellia Thompson, said Mrs. Slaughter is considering making a run against Mr. Reynolds instead of Mr. LaFalce. "She is ruling nothing out at this time," Miss Thompson said.


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