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New York's Disgraceful Gerrymander-- Great For Democrats, Terrible For America

There are 8 Republicans in the New York delegation to Congress right now-- Zeldin and Garbarino on Long Island, Malliotakis on Staten Island (+ some Brooklyn), Elise Stefanik in the North Country, Claudia Tenney and John Katko in Central New York, Tom Reed in a Southern Tier district, and Chris Jacobs in western New York (minus Buffalo). Yesterday the new congressional maps came out and they are the ultimate in map drawing corruption-- gerrymandering you would expect from places like Florida, Tennessee and Texas. The maps were drawn to get rid of half the red seats, leaving just 4 of the 8 Republicans in the delegation, made somewhat easier because Zeldin, Katko and Reed and retiring anyway and no one give a damn about Malliotakis and Tenney.

The new New York delegation should be 22 Democrats and 4 Republicans in 2023, one seat down. Sean Patrick Maloney (whose district goes from Biden +5 to Biden +8 by stealing Peekskill from Mondaire Jones (whose district slips from +20 Biden to +13 Biden) worked to protect any endangered Democratic incumbents-- including himself-- at the expense of Republicans and progressives. And he tried and failed to get the Republican seats down to 3. The gerrymander makes Elise Stefanik's, Andrew Garbarino's and Chris Jacob's district's Republican dumping grounds. Reed's old district is also safe and I suppose Tenney could move there are pretend to be an incumbent. It's either that or primary Stefanik or commit political suicide.

Mondaire told me after the maps came out that his district is slightly more Republican but that he was neither worried nor complacent. His support in Rockland County seems pretty unshakable, even among Republicans! People say he has the best constituents service of any congressman in the state. "We’re going to have a tougher road ahead than we expected," he said, "but I am excited to show that our movement can win everywhere. I’m ready to make my case to the voters of New York’s new 17th Congressional District that they deserve Medicare for All, high-quality child care, and a livable planet. I know they’ll be with us." If you'd like to help make sure Mondaire can reach his new constituents with his powerful people-oriented message, please consider contributing to his campaign here.

Antonio Delgado's district went from a +1.5 Biden district to +9.8 Biden district by adding Utica and Binghampton to it and some blue Albany suburbs that Paul Tonko gave up to his colleague. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro might as well pull out of the race and go home.

Zeldin's Suffolk County district gave lots of Republican areas to Garbarino and the district goes from Trump +4 to Biden +11. I remember when Otis Pike and Tim Bishop were Democratic congressmen from then-rural Suffolk County; it's going to be like that again. I sure hope its not going to wind up being some worthless conservative like Bridget Fleming. By swinging west from Staten Island into bluer parts of Brooklyn, namely Park Slope, instead of east into Trump country, Malliotakis' district goes from a Trump +11 to a Biden +9 district.

The Long Island North Shore Suozzi district will be laughed at for the next decade as it starts in Stony Brook and along the north shore and meanders along a narrow strip of Queens and the Bronx coast into a bit of Westchester, not too much but enough to encourage state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi to try to muscle her way into the race against Melanie D'Arrigo and split to progressive vote enough to allow arch-conservative Jon Kaiman to win the primary.

"While this district redraw is unconventional," said D'Arrigo, 'drawing the eastern part of Long Island into the same district as the Connecticut border, I am confident in our rapidly expanding ground game. This is the campaign closest to the people and it will be the campaign that wins for the people. We are uniting the party and driving genuine excitement. I will bring the same level of determination and commitment to the Bronx and Westchester as I have brought to Long Island and Queens." Remember, please, NOT ANY BLUE WILL DO. Let's make sure we elect progressive challengers like Melanie D'Arrigo, Steven Holden and Brittany DeBarros, not right-of-center quasi Republicans like Jon Kaiman, Josh Lafazan, Francis Conole and, worst of all, Max Rose. The progressives are at that link above or you can contribute to their campaigns by clicking on the thermometer.

And you can look at the interactive district maps here. The NY Times reported late yesterday that "John Faso, a former Hudson Valley congressman who has spoken for Republicans on the issue, warned that conservatives were likely to challenge the congressional map in court. He accused Democrats, who have championed anti-gerrymandering measures on the national level, of hypocrisy. 'If you want to talk about voter suppression, this is an exercise of voter suppression where they will attempt to suppress or deny the votes of millions of conservatives in the state to advance their political interests,' Faso said. Republicans were not the only interested parties alarmed by Democrats’ swift action. Lawmakers are poised to vote this week without convening a single public hearing, drawing the ire of good governance groups and community leaders. Even rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers only saw the proposed lines for the first time in the last few days, leading to last-minute changes."

Several factors worked in Democrats’ favor during this year’s redistricting in New York. The 2020 census recorded population growth in areas around New York City and decline in rural stretches of northern and western New York, which tend to skew Republican. And this is the first redistricting cycle in decades in which Democrats enjoy complete power of the majority in Albany, and with it, the ability to draw lines as they see fit.
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, the chairman of House Democrats’ campaign arm in Washington, had been pushing his counterparts in Albany to take a more aggressive tack, outlining a vision for the state’s congressional districts that would have created 23 Democratic seats.
But leaders of the State Assembly and State Senate appear to have opted for a somewhat more conservative approach, concentrating more Democratic voters in somewhat fewer seats rather than spreading them out and risking more widespread losses during a potential Republican wave.
Still, the map foretells rich pickup opportunities for Democrats in Congress.
On Long Island, where the two parties each control two districts, the proposal would give Democrats a good chance at winning a third by extending the right-leaning First District west into friendlier territory. The seat is held by Lee Zeldin, a Republican who is bowing out to run for governor.
In New York City, the new 11th District, held by Ms. Malliotakis, would remain geographically centered on Staten Island, but extend farther north into left-leaning parts of Brooklyn, including Sunset Park and Park Slope. The new district would be far harder for a Republican to win and could pave the way for a comeback by Max Rose, a Democrat who held the seat from 2019 to 2020.
And in upstate New York, Democrats are poised to collapse one Republican district altogether and tip another swing seat around Syracuse in their favor by adding more Democratic territory. The changes leave Representative Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican who represents much of the North Country region, secure, but could force Representative Claudia Tenney, a Republican in a neighboring district, to retire or face the possibility of defeat.

Biggest losers in this process: Claudia Tenney, basically New York's very own Marjorie Traitor Greene and Nicole Malliotakis (plus the Republican Party of Staten Island).

UPDATE From Opposite Ends Of New York

Brittany DeBarros in Staten Island: "When we started campaigning almost a year ago, we did it believing we could win NY-11 as is. We have always maintained that redistricting could only help us. Still, we’ve been told here for so long that we can’t have nice things-- that we have to just accept the crumbs tossed at us. As a result, we have weathered a lot of understandable disillusionment and skepticism. With the release of these maps, I saw new hope and energy ignite in people. I saw people realizing we don’t have to settle for a right-wing Democrat, emboldened to demand more for our communities. We will still be out fundraised and up against a lot of establishment power. But we’re a campaign made by and for people who have nothing to lose but our chains. That’s a kind of power that money can’t buy and with an even more favorable district than most of us imagined, I know that we can really win this."

Steven Holden in Syracuse: "We are very excited about the new district lines, as this is the most progressive district in the state outside of the NYC metro. With great educational institutions such as an Ivy League school with Cornell, my alma mater Syracuse University, along with Ithaca College and SUNY-Cortland, I look forward to working with them to solve Central NY’s issues and to be a bastion of innovation going into the future. This district also is the home to lands of three of the members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy- Onondaga, Seneca, and the Cayuga. Their two sacred lake-- Onondaga and Seneca-- need massive remediation, and I have spoken to them about my plan to give First Nations the first contracts to be stewards of their land. Our work with the Afghan refugee community in Syracuse gives us a great and long-term relationship helping these people who had our backs. Again, excited is an understatement, as this will prove to everyone that a progressive can win here and remain for a long time."


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