New York approves congressional map giving Democrats a modest boost

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 2:37 PM

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York’s Democratic-majority legislature approved a new congressional map on Wednesday designed to help the party regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November’s national election.

But in somewhat of a surprise, the plan fell far short of the more aggressively partisan map that many observers had expected, after lawmakers rejected a bipartisan version earlier this week drawn by the state’s independent redistricting commission.

The safer approach was intended to avoid a repeat of 2022, when an extremely advantageous map drawn by Democrats was invalidated by state courts as illegally gerrymandered. The resulting court-drawn map used in that fall’s midterms helped Republicans flip four Democratic seats, almost enough on their own to give Republicans the U.S. House majority.

Several Republicans joined Democrats in voting to approve the new map on Wednesday, an indication that the plan was not seen as an egregious gerrymander.

New York had been among several states where ongoing battles over congressional redistricting could determine which party controls Congress after the Nov. 5 election. Republicans hold a narrow 219-213 majority that has proven unwieldy.

The new map shores up one Democratic incumbent and further endangers a Republican freshman, but otherwise leaves most of the state’s 26 districts largely unchanged from 2022.

Under the plan, the Long Island district that Democrats flipped in a special election this month would become slightly more Democratic. The seat, which was won by Tom Suozzi, became vacant after the scandal-ridden Republican George Santos was expelled from the House.

In addition, a Syracuse-area seat held by first-term Republican Brandon Williams will become more Democratic, giving Democrats a better chance of winning it back this year.

There are likely to be a half-dozen competitive New York seats in the general election, according to a Reuters analysis of the leading independent forecasters.

Some Democrats reacted with frustration that the party did not take a more hardline approach to counter Republican gerrymanders elsewhere.

“When Republicans have the pen, they stab us in the neck,” New York City Councilman Justin Brannan wrote on X on Tuesday after the proposed map was released. Brannan is reportedly considering a challenge to Republican U.S. Representative Nicole Malliotakis, who serves a Staten Island-based district.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Wallis)