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Proposed congressional map puts Watertown, much of Fort Drum outside Stefanik’s district

Proposed 24th Congressional District
Proposed 24th Congressional District(WWNY)
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 5:50 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The north country could become part of two different congressional districts, with Watertown and much of Fort Drum carved out of the current district and put into a new district which flows to just outside Buffalo.

The Democrat’s proposal for a new congressional map was released this weekend and it looks like it will change the political landscape for the tri-county region in more ways than one.

Some say the Democrats are taking an asset away from current Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

“She’s invested a lot of time and effort in building that relationship. So, that will certainly be something that she’s not happy to see,” said Grant Reeher, political science professor, Syracuse University.

Congresswoman Stefanik is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. She has also spent years advocating for Fort Drum, welcoming President Donald Trump to post.

But congressional lines are getting re-drawn and the Democratic proposal would strip the heart of Fort Drum from Stefanik’s 21st Congressional District. The redrawn district leaves Stefanik with the firing ranges north of the main post, while shifting the headquarters, barracks and Wheeler-Sack airfield into the new district.

Reeher says the loss of a portion of Fort Drum likely won’t hurt her chances of securing another term in the upcoming election.

“I don’t see Elise Stefanik necessarily losing that district now. She’d still be very difficult to beat. To take that out of her district may be the Democrats kind of sticking it in her eye a little bit,” he said.

So who would represent Fort Drum? Whoever represents the 24th Congressional District. It sprawls from Watertown and Thousand Islands west to just outside Buffalo. And - importantly - Stefanik would still be able to advocate for Drum as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

A Buffalo news outlet reports Congressman Chris Jacobs, who currently represents the state’s 27th District, plans to run for that seat, although he would have to move into it.

Splitting Jefferson County in two has some people scratching their heads.

“Splitting up Jefferson County and saying, ‘Some of you go to the eastern upstate border, and some of you go almost to the western border with Pennsylvania, doesn’t strike me as making a lot of sense,” said Jefferson County Republican Elections Commissioner Jude Seymour.

Minority Leader Will Barclay says the map doesn’t come as a surprise with a Democratic majority in the assembly and senate.

“The governor, Governor Hochul, said as much. She said that she was going to do all she could when it came to the redistricting process to help Democrats, and she’s apparently delivering on that promise,” said Barclay.

The Associated Press reports the released maps could lead to the Democrats picking up as many as three seats and Republicans losing as many as four.

An initial vote on the new maps could take place this week, but anyone who knows about redistricting will tell you to expect some court challenges.

(Editor’s note - This story was updated on February 3 to clarify earlier reporting, which stated Stefanik was losing “Fort Drum” without acknowledging that she would continue to represent the area where soldiers train.)

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