Report: Dems seek to ‘knock out’ up to five GOP members of congress in NY

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - Faced with the prospect of losing control of the House of Representatives in next year’s mid-term elections, Democrats are turning to New York as a source for Democratic wins.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Democrats may try to take out as many as five Republican members of congress from New York, using the process known as redistricting.

Democrats hold a razor-thin eight member majority over Republicans in the House, and Republicans are widely expected to take back the majority in 2022, so gaining five seats in New York would be huge help for Democrats.

Redistricting is the once every 10 years process in which district lines are redrawn for every seat in congress, as well as every state assembly and senate seat.

The process has been drenched in politics for decades, but this year was supposed to be different: an Independent Redistricting Commission is charged with redrawing the lines.

The commission is not off to a rousing start.

Republicans and Democrats could not agree on a common set of maps, so at a meeting Wednesday, they released two competing proposals.

“I can’t help but regret the fact that we were not able to come to a consensus on a single map,” said Jack Martins, vice-chair of the commission.

Sometimes, the competing maps are radically different. One proposal for the north country’s congressional district keeps the current district largely intact and appears to expand it slightly; the other saws it in half, putting Jefferson and Lewis counties in a district that runs east to Utica and then south to the Binghamton area.

It was clear Wednesday that some commission members were not happy with the proposed maps. Commission member Charlie Nesbitt flagged “some obvious problems, especially upstate, where communities of interest were entirely ignored or split.”

“Let’s just do better,” he said.

The competing proposals will now be subject to a series of public hearings, including one in the north country on October 27.

And Republicans are sure to complain bitterly, and take legal action, against any redistricting which disadvantages them.

But ultimately, it will be up to the state legislature - dominated by Democrats - to accept or reject the commission’s redistricting plan, and if rejected, come up with their own.

“The Democratic Party in New York state sees an opportunity to redistrict in a way that will benefit what is a dangerously thin majority in the House of Representatives,” said Alexander Cohen, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Clarkson University.

Cohen agreed with a reporter’s contention that Democrats are using New York as a kind of “piggy bank” for seats in congress, but pointed out Democrats are only doing what Republicans have already done in right-leaning states.

“Texas, Florida - those states have been butchered, in many ways the representation has been altered thru’ gerrymandering. So there are quite a few piggy banks out there.”

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