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Posts Tagged ‘Louise Slaughter’

Turner Win Endangers Upstate NY Democrats

In House, Redistricting on September 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

Representative-elect Bob Turner’s (R-NY-9) special election victory in Anthony Weiner’s vacated Queens/Brooklyn congressional district carries greater ramifications for the New York Democratic Party than merely losing a seat that was theirs for the taking. With the Empire State losing two districts in reapportionment, the Turner victory will now likely put at least one upstate Democrat on the political hot seat.

In New York, as in most other states, redistricting is handled through the normal state legislative process. Democrats control two of the three levers of political power here: the Governor’s office and the state Assembly. Republicans have a small majority in the state Senate. This gives both parties a seat at the redistricting table and will send the map to court unless the political leaders can reach a compromise.

Since losing representation is nothing new for this delegation, the traditional method of deciding which seats to collapse is to divide them evenly between the two political parties. Such will likely be the 2012 outcome, too, even though the Democrats have a 21-8 majority in the current NY congressional lineup.

Typically those in power collapse the least senior members’ seats. It is clear that the Democrats will want to collapse Turner’s 9th District, because it is fertile territory that can be used to shore up their other districts. All 29 seats are under-populated, hence the reason the state is dropping two more seats. Thus, if Mr. Turner, the newest freshman, is to see his 9th CD divided among the others in the city, the map drawers will then be looking upstate to collapse a Democratic district. Before, it was assumed that the Democratic loss would come in the city and an upstate Republican would likely be drawn out. Because of Turner’s surprise victory this past Tuesday, it is likely that the tables have turned.

If you look at the population numbers for each of New York’s 29 seats, the district needing the greatest influx of people is that of 82-year-old congressional veteran Louise Slaughter (D). Her 28th District is 105,869 individuals under zero-deviation quota. The district boundaries stretch from Niagara Falls to Rochester and many people believe its configuration resembles a set of headphones. The adjacent district, Rep. Brian Higgins’ (D) 27th District, which encompasses Buffalo and travels southwest along the Lake Erie coastline to the Pennsylvania border, needs an additional 88,436 people and is the state’s second-most under-populated seat. Clearly, the simple mathematics suggests that a pairing of these two sparse seats is a distinct possibility.

Keeping within the practice of “last in; first out,” then freshman Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-NY-26) could also become a target. Ms. Hochul won a special election earlier this year after Rep. Christopher Lee (R) resigned. Her seat stretches between Buffalo and Rochester but contains no portion of either city. It is always easier to collapse a district that lies in the middle of a region rather than one in a corner, and the 26th certainly fits this criteria.

A more intriguing option for the Democrats, however, might be to sacrifice Rep. Bill Owens in the 23rd District. In what should still be a Republican seat, the GOP badly bungled the 2010 special election and the succeeding general vote to elect the novice Democratic politician. Since the 23rd is high on the national GOP’s conversion target list, collapsing this particular seat would almost serve the same purpose as taking another Republican district away. The worst case Democratic scenario would be to sacrifice another member and then lose the Owens seat, too. Giving up the 23rd might mitigate their losses and become the safe play.

Other elimination possibilities are the districts of Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22) and Nita Lowey (D-NY-18). Both are down approximately 40,000 in population, and each member is over 70 years of age and has considered retirement possibilities. If either of the two decides not to seek re-election, then the choice of which district to collapse becomes easy.

Expect New York to be one of the last states to finish its redistricting process, meaning it will end well into next year. At that time we will finally learn who wins and loses the game of political “Russian Roulette.”

The Weiner Scandal Winner: Rep. Joe Crowley

In Redistricting on June 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

The Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) sexting scandal could be paying long-term benefits for a neighboring Borough of Queens congressman. Because New York is losing two seats in reapportionment, Rep. Weiner’s once personal, now very public, exploits have made his 9th Congressional District (CD) the No. 1 target in New York for collapsing. Of the state’s 29 CD’s, all of which will require more population in the 2011 redistricting process (which is the fundamental reason for the delegation losing two seats), five of the top 10 under-populated districts reside in New York City.

The current scenario favors neighboring Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), because his Queens/Bronx seat is becoming more heavily minority. This make him potentially vulnerable to a primary challenge from a Hispanic Democrat in the ensuing decade, thus he will want more territory from Queens and less from The Bronx in his new district. Since approximately 70% of Weiner’s district encompasses Queens’ territory, it is easy to combine pieces from both NY-7 and NY-9 into a seat totally within the Borough of Queens.

Of the five CD’s that contain all or part of Queens, Rep. Gregory Meeks’ 6th district is the only seat fully contained within the borough. Adding another Queens-specific CD is at least one of the arguments Mr. Crowley’s personal lobbyist will make in Albany when he attempts to secure a favorable district for the seven-term congressional veteran. Three NY Representatives — Crowley, Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) and Brian Higgins (D-NY-27) — each have hired a personal lobbyist to make specific redistricting arguments to the governing powers in the legislature.

But, what if Weiner resigns? Crowley has that covered, too. In New York, as we have seen in the four other special congressional elections held in the state during the past election cycle, the local county chairmen are the people who choose mid-cycle election nominees. Who is the Borough of Queens Democratic chairman? None other than Rep. Joe Crowley. So, should Weiner resign, it is Crowley who will virtually decide the identity of the next congressman, meaning he will choose someone who won’t run for a full term, making it a virtual certainty that the current 9th district will be one of the disappearing seats.

The other collapsed district will likely come from upstate. The Buffalo/Rochester area seats, numbered 28 (Rep. Louise Slaughter) and 27 (Higgins) need to gain the greatest number of people. Chances are the upstate loss will come from the Republicans.

With a late September primary, New York is typically one of the last states to complete its redistricting process, so the final lines will not be known until well into next year. Since Democrats control the governor’s office and the state Assembly, and Republicans hold the state Senate, the chances of redistricting ending in a legislative deadlock are high — meaning a court-drawn map likely will be the eventual solution.

Regardless of who draws the map, it is relatively clear that one of the lost seats will come from New York City and the other from upstate, with the Long Island districts all moving west, closer to New York City.

While the Weiner scandal is destroying the congressman’s career within the House, its timing is also poor from his personal political perspective. While he may stay in office to finish the current term, Weiner’s long-term congressional career prospects, because of the reapportionment and redistricting scenario described above, are highly unfavorable.
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