New York's Supreme Court finalized a congressional map from a special master that obliterates Democratic gains in the state and positions several incumbents on a collision course with each other.
The new map largely hewed to special master Jonathan Cervas's draft, creating 21 districts that supported President Joe Biden in the 2020 election and five districts carried by former President Donald Trump. The map divided 16 counties, 18 fewer than the 34 split under the legislature's proposal, and created five more competitive districts than the three included in the legislature's map, according to a document released by the court early Saturday morning.
COURT-DRAWN HOUSE MAP COULD DEVASTATE DEMOCRATIC CHANCES IN MIDTERM ELECTIONS
Democrats enjoy a 19-8 majority of the state's 27 seats. One seat was lost due to the most recent census.
The party took over the redistricting process from the state's Independent Redistricting Commission after a deadlock and enacted one of the most ambitious maps in the country, which was expected to give Democrats an edge in a whopping 22 of the 26 congressional seats. The map was the crown jewel of the Democrats' redistricting during the most recent cycle, accounting for some of the party's biggest gains in the country.
But their advantage unraveled after the state Supreme Court ruled in March the state legislature, led by the Democrats, flouted the state Constitution by bypassing the IRC. Now Democrats could actually lose ground in the state as a result of the redistricting process, which could be deterministic of the balance of power in a narrowly divided Congress.
Justice Patrick McAllister, who approved the map just before the midnight deadline, conceded the last-minute finish was "less than ideal" but argued the new boundaries were "almost perfectly neutral," apportioning 15 safe Democratic seats, three safe Republican seats, and eight toss-ups.
“Unfortunately some people have encouraged the public to believe that now the court gets to create its own gerrymandered maps that favor Republicans,” McAllister wrote in a five-page order Saturday in response to criticisms the map was hastily redrawn out of public view. “Such could not be further from the truth. The court is not politically biased.”
The unveiling of the court-appointed special master's draft proposal on Monday sent Democrats into a frenzy as they scrambled to sort through the implications of the new lines. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said the map was "enough to make Jim Crow blush," emphasizing that his party was embroiled in an "all-hands-on-deck moment." The map cut Jeffries's home from the 8th Congressional District he represents, though he is not barred from running for reelection in that district.
Some Democrats were packed into the same district, setting the stage for awkward showdowns between Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney in the 12th District, as well as Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Mondaire Jones in the 17th District.
“The new district belongs to no individual candidate, but instead to the voters who call it home,” Nadler said Saturday.
Additionally, the outlook for Republicans in the 3rd District and the 22nd District is considerably more favorable than the previous apportionment. The 3rd District was modified somewhat from Cervas's original proposal such that one arm of the district no longer stretches to Long Island's southern shore.
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Democrats do not appear to have any good options to reverse their misfortunes in the state, as the court's decision on Friday effectively seals their fate for the midterm cycle. Last month, the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, upheld the state Supreme Court ruling that nixed the map. With New York's map enacted, only New Hampshire is left without a legally binding congressional map in place ahead of the midterm elections.
The primary election for the state's congressional races is slated for Aug. 23 after a court postponed the primary date from June 28.