- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 21, 2022

A New York judge finalized the state’s congressional and state Senate district maps late Friday night, changing very little from Monday’s proposed map that set off consternation among Democrats.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister appointed Carnegie Mellon University fellow Jonathan Cervas to redraw the new district lines after a batch of DemocratIC-drawn maps were previously rejected.

Justice McAllister in the five-page order disputed criticisms of Mr. Cervas and the court related to the new maps, declaring the new boundaries “almost perfectly neutral” with 15 safe Democratic seats, three safe Republican seats and eight competitive seats.

New York Republicans applauded the finalized maps saying in a statement Saturday morning that it was a “good day for Democracy.”

“Democrats’ scheme to rig the election is finally dead beyond revival. We took on this fight on behalf of the 20 million citizens of this state who deserve free and fair elections,” NYGOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement. “It should not be forgotten by voters that Governor Hochul, DCCC Chair Congressman Maloney, and Senator Gianaris were the chief architects of this outrageous and illegal attempt to strip New Yorkers of their rights and cheat, all at an enormous cost to taxpayers.”

Democrats, however, say they fought for fair maps in New York for months but that “a single Republican judge in Steuben County threw justice and equal representation to the wind.”

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“Judge McCalister ran an undemocratic process that put Republicans’ political priorities over the will of the voters. His legal reasoning was flawed and his motives were suspect,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said in a statement.

“We sent a letter to the Steuben County Supreme Court noting the flaws in the proposed map. Most notably, the proposed map ignored numerous minority communities of interest in violation of the New York constitution,” he said. Unfortunately, this final map flouts the clear commands of the NY constitution and causes real concern under the Voting Rights Act.”

Mr. Maloney noted that in the coming weeks and months Democrats will continue “fighting to get fair maps that reflect the will of the voters of New York.”

It is unclear if Democrats intend to launch a legal challenge against the finalized congressional map given the tight timeline to the August primary date.

The Washington Times reached out to Gov. Hochul’s press office and did not immediately hear back.   

The new map is a stark difference from what New York‘s Democratic-majority state legislature attempted to adopt in February which was a map featuring 22 safe Democratic seats to four safe Republican seats. New York Democrats presently hold 19 seats.

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“Unfortunately, some people have encouraged the public to believe that now the court gets to create its own gerrymandered maps that favor Republicans,” wrote Justice McAllister, a Republican. “Such could not be further from the truth. The court is not politically biased.”

The court-approved maps were released four days after Cervas’ initial map proposal triggered incumbent lawmakers and candidates to declare where they planned to run. In up to five districts, incumbents were potentially facing one another in primaries.

In the final maps, Mr. Cervas made minor changes, pushed by politicians, New York-based interest groups, and individuals, from his original map proposal.

The changes included reuniting the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn in the new 8th Congressional District instead of splitting it up. By doing this, other districts in Brooklyn were altered.

The 11th Congressional District, held by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, which added the Bensonhurst neighborhood, became a more Republican district.

Mr. Cervas also tweaked the boundaries of Long Island, creating a district based in Nassau County within its South Shore region.

Other than reuniting Manhattan’s Chinatown with Sunset Park in Brooklyn in the 10th Congressional District, Manhattan’s congressional boundaries were primarily left alone since Mr. Cervas’ map proposal was initially introduced.

This means longtime Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler are set up to primary each other in the new Upper East and Upper West Side 12th Congressional District.

Following the release of the finalized maps, Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Democrat and first-term lawmaker who represents the 17th Congressional District, announced he would run in the newly drawn 10th Congressional District.

“I have decided to run for another term in Congress in #NY10. This is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Since long before the Stonewall Uprising, queer people of color have sought refuge within its borders,” Mr. Jones, a gay man of color, tweeted Saturday.

Mr. Jones was caught up in a conflict with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman, after Mr. Maloney announced Monday he would change districts and run in the same district that Mr. Jones represented this Congress.

Mr. Maloney’s move angered fellow Democrats causing a firestorm of criticism against him. Now, with Mr. Jones deciding to run in the newly drawn Manhattan-Brooklyn 10th Congressional District, both incumbents can avoid a nasty primary, and he will, instead, face former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, among several others in the primary scheduled for August 23.

In the upstate Buffalo region, Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican, announced he would run in the 23rd Congressional District that is similar to the district held by outgoing fellow Republican Rep. Tom Reed. Additionally, Rep. Caludia Tenney, a Republican, announced she would run in the newly re-drawn 24th Congressional seat.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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