July 25, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Court’s Map Could Push New York Legislature to Act

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The court-drawn New York redistricting draft map released by a federal judge Monday would endanger some incumbent Members, including Rep. Kathy Hochul.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has threatened to veto any plan not drawn by an independent commission, though insiders think he can be brought around. If he signs a plan into law, under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the state’s Congressional map must be approved by either the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Under the act, the DOJ has 60 days to complete preclearance. Because candidate petitioning is slated to begin March 20, with a Congressional primary June 26, both the petitioning period and the primary would almost certainly have to be moved by the Legislature.

One determinant of how different the final map is from the one released today: how happy Members are with the lines.

The map released by Mann essentially eliminated the districts of retiring Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) and special election victor Rep. Bob Turner (R) and mortally endangered some incumbents such as Turner, Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) and, to a lesser extent, Rep. Chris Gibson (R). The provisional lines left other Members, such as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel and Rep. Tom Reed (R), with slightly less favorable districts, while shoring up Members such as Reps. Brian Higgins (D) and Michael Grimm (R).

The map appeared substantially less gerrymandered than the competing plans released earlier by the two chambers of the state Legislature.

For Members who were thrown under the bus in one or both of those plans, such as Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R), the court map looked pretty good.

“We were very pleased with the lines that came out [Monday],” she told Roll Call. “It’s not that they gave us any kind of advantage,” Buerkle said, noting the Democratic lean of the district, “but that they moved the district back to the way it” is rather than the gerrymander of the plans released earlier.

“I think these maps are fair. They’re from an independent source, and they best represent the interests of the people of New York,” she said.

The fact that seats like Buerkle’s remain competitive under these lines left national Republicans feeling cautiously optimistic about how the Empire State will play out for them.

“For Republicans, it could have been a hell of a lot worse,” said a national Republican deeply familiar with New York redistricting. “It’s a map we can absolutely live with.”

But, with so much yet to be determined in both the judicial and legislative processes, that could change in a New York minute.

“Anybody who says this is the end of the game,” the aide to the New York Democratic Member said, “that would be premature.”

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