The Empire State's yearlong Congressional redistricting crucible, which caused political headaches from the Adirondacks to Albany to the Big Apple, ended with a one-page letter.
Joshua Pepper, an assistant attorney general for the state, wrote an official note to the federal three-judge panel that had drawn new Congressional lines after the state Legislature had deadlocked on the process. Pepper confirmed that the judge's map had been ensconced at the state Board of Elections, ready for use in November. And with that, the drama was over.
If the split-control Legislature were to pass a map, it could be used for Congressional elections later this decade. But for 2012, the 19 Democratic and 7 Republican incumbents hoping to come back for the 113th Congress — along with dozens of challengers — finally know precisely what their districts will look like. Those lines were released by the court on Monday afternoon.
And while there was much grousing among Members about the delay, there's no question in Democratic and Republican strategists' minds that the length of time it took to finalize a map helped incumbents of both parties, with a particular edge to Republicans this cycle.
"In the long run, because New York is such a Democratic state, the districts drawn by the court will inevitably put all seats in play," one New York City Democratic insider said. Echoing widespread thinking among New York Democrats, the source added, "In the short run, the complete abdication of redistricting by the Legislature has meant it's more difficult to recruit top-tier candidates to unseat Republicans" in November. The exceptions are races that have been under way for some time, such as former Rep. Dan Maffei's (D) effort to take back the seat he lost to Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) in 2010.
Republicans, who have no truly safe seats under the court's lines, have opportunities this cycle as well, including rematches with candidates from 2010. Businessman Randy Altschuler is the likely GOP nominee running in a rematch with Rep. Tim Bishop (D). And investment banker Matt Doheney is running again against Rep. Bill Owens (D) upstate.
While it's too early for Roll Call to rate the Empire State races, here's a list of the newly numbered districts and which Members are running where.
• 1st district: Bishop is likely to again face Altschuler, who lost by 593 votes in 2010. This will be a heated and competitive contest. On Tuesday, Altschuler picked up the backing of the state's Independence Party, meaning he'll appear on its ballot line. Bishop had the Independence Party's backing in 2010, and the shift could be a boost for the Republican in a district where every vote will count.