Neither Higgins’ nor Slaughter’s office responded to a request for comment. When asked over the course of the special election about redistricting implications, the Hochul campaign consistently insisted it was focused on winning the race at hand, deflecting the suggestion that she would become a redistricting victim should she prevail.
But officials within the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee privately offered a different perspective.
The DCCC was initially reluctant to dedicate resources to Tuesday’s contest, largely because of the concern that the seat would disappear in 2012. But as the race tightened and the DCCC was persuaded to play in the special election, committee officials suggested a Hochul victory — even if her seat were eliminated — could take redistricting pressure off Democrats elsewhere.
Serious questions remain, however, over whether state lawmakers would approve a new map that eliminates two upstate seats. There are both political complications and practical — the population losses that are forcing the new map are not unique to the upstate region.
The Republican Member thought to be in the most trouble, 25th district freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, could actually benefit if she absorbs some of the GOP voters in Hochul’s district. A Republican consultant with strong connections to Albany and Washington said most view Buerkle as “really having no chance of winning, except that now they could give all those NY-26 Republicans to Buerkle.”
“And then she sticks around, which is the equivalent of a win, because no one expects us to hold the 25th,” the consultant added.
But there was more speculation than answers in the hours immediately after Hochul shocked the nation by winning. There were also multiple rumors of Democratic retirements, which would certainly take pressure off other Democrats fearing for their political lives.
“Everyone’s spinning their wheels right now,” the Republican consultant said. “I do think that in some ways, one of those three Democrats will not be coming back ... but no one knows anything yet.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.