Legislature approves new senate, assembly districts

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 1:50 PM EST
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - The Democrat-controlled state legislature finished redrawing the state’s political map Thursday.

The legislature approved new boundary lines for all the state’s Senate and Assembly districts.

The Assembly approved the lines 118-29; the Senate, 43-20.

Not much changes in the north country.

The 116th state Assembly “river district’ - which stretches along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River from southern Jefferson County to Massena - stays mostly the same, picking up the town of Watertown.

Republican Mark Walczyk represents the 116th.

The 117th state Assembly district, represented by Republican Ken Blankenbush, changes some. Blankenbush picks up towns on the eastern side of St. Lawrence County, while continuing to represent all of Lewis County and the eastern part of Jefferson County.

Blankenbush loses three towns at the extreme southern end of Jefferson County - Adams, Lorraine and Worth - to the 120th state Assembly district, represented by Will Barclay and centered in Oswego County.

On the Senate side, Patty Ritchie continues to represent Jefferson County, and picks up Lewis County as well as all of St. Lawrence County - she already had part of it.

Thursday’s vote completes a Democrat rewrite of the state’s political lines, a rewrite designed to give Democrats maximum advantage, and make it harder for Republicans to get elected. (That is not the case in the north country. The new boundary lines for Ritchie’s, Blankenbush’s and Walczyk’s districts still leave each district solidly Republican.)

The changes were all pushed through at the last minute without any public hearings, and with only Democrats deciding the lines.

“Ten years ago I don’t think anyone would have thought that there’d be two-thirds majorities in both houses and yet Democrats have that, probably for the first time in a hundred years and they muscled through their lines. And it’s a bad week for Republicans in New York,” said Blair Horner, director, New York Public Interest Research Group.

Wednesday, the legislature approved new lines for the state’s congressional districts, a move which may give Democrats as many as three more seats in congress.

A lawsuit from Republicans to stop the new lines is inevitable. It’s less clear that the courts will be interested; historically, they have been reluctant to overturn what the legislature does. What may be different this year: there are laws in place which are supposed to make it illegal to draw boundary lines just for the purpose of helping one political party, and reducing competition.

State senator Rob Ortt - leader of the Republican minority in the state Senate - said in a statement “Democrats’ hypocritical actions are blatant attacks on our democratic process.

“It is clear they are only concerned with holding onto their political power and cementing the disastrous One-Party Rule that has made New York less safe, less affordable, and less populated.”

Walczyk called the Democratic majority’s action the most “partisan and appalling, self-serving abomination of public service I have yet to witness.”

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