Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israels home state of New York still has not finalized its Congressional map for this years elections.
Democrats echoed that sentiment, noting that any deal would have to be concocted adroitly enough to leave Cuomo looking like he hadn’t walked back his veto pledge too much. They expect any map he signs to look less gerrymandered than the current lines, allowing him to claim victory.
Polls have found the majority of New Yorkers support an independent redistricting commission. Cuomo will be up for re-election in 2014.
The delay and the opaqueness of the process in the Empire State has had a ripple effect throughout New York’s political classes. The endless unknowns have left candidates, especially challengers, facing the unpleasant situation of not having a certain district in which to run and not being able to raise money for that theoretical effort. And that’s had a downstream effect.
“On a consultant level, it’s killing people because none of the candidates are raising the amount of money they normally would raise, especially if you’re a challenger, because the smart money doesn’t want to give any money unless they see the districts,” one longtime Empire State GOP operative said.
Still, some races are already set. The contours of the rematches between Bishop and businessman Randy Altschuler (R) on Long Island and Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) and former Rep. Dan Maffei (D) upstate are unlikely to change much with new lines.
New Yorkers involved with politics are a tough, hardy bunch, but the longer the process drags on, the more stress they have been put under.
“We are getting into extraordinarily late and messy, so there’s the heartburn factor,” one New York state Hill staffer said.
Israel is probably not immune from that.
He faces a special kind of dilemma: bolstering Democrats chances of picking up seats this cycle — the districts of GOP Reps. Michael Grimm, Nan Hayworth and Buerkle are the top targets — while safeguarding as many of the 20 Democrats in the delegation running for re-election as possible. Strategists believe it’s also to his advantage to push the New York state government to come to a solution sooner rather than later: Delay is to incumbents’ advantage and could hamper Democrats. And while a Democratic state Assembly and governor could push through a map more favorable to the party, allowing the line-drawing to be completed by a court-appointed special master would be a risk.
“There is a growing concern that a lot of this will be decided in court,” New York city Democratic consultant Basil Smikle said.
Israel wasn’t available to comment, but a DCCC spokesman said the committee’s “analysis is that sensible maps will strengthen Democratic incumbents and allow for multiple pickup opportunities for Democrats across the state.”
As for Israel’s own Long Island-based district, there’s no indication that he’s looking to shore it up at the expense of his colleagues.
“Steve Israel has not gone out of his way to say, ‘OK, the first priority here is to give me some impregnable district,’” one Long Island Democratic operative said. “I think he feels comfortable that he can win a district with a similar composition to the one he represents today.”
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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