Two competing proposals abound, and a failure to compromise could pave the way for Democrats to step in and knock Republican congressional seats.
New York’s new bipartisan redistribution commission got off to an inauspicious start on Wednesday, as its Democratic and Republican members of Congress and legislative map failed to reach an agreement on a preliminary set of proposals.
Instead, the York State Independent Redistribution Commission, The body, empowered by voters to remove politics from the map-making process, said it would go ahead with two competing proposals, one prepared by its Democratic members and the other by Republicans.
With New York losing a seat in its congressional delegation after last year’s census, both maps propose eliminating a district upstate where the population has been declining. But the Republican plan appears to offer its party’s candidates a better shot at retaining seats in northern and western New York, as well as Staten Island, while the Democrats’ proposals include moving more seats to their party’s dominance in Congress. appeared more likely to expand.
Nothing in the state constitution requires the commission, which is drawing lines for the first time since it was created in 2014, to agree on a set of maps for Congress, Assembly, and state Senate districts at this point in the process. But what amounts to a preliminary discussion does not fuel optimism that the commission might unite around a set of bipartisan maps to submit to Albany for ratification.
Its failure could pave the way for a Democratic supermajority in Albany to take steps to determine the final maps. Party leaders there and in Washington are already quietly circling if the commission fails to reach a final agreement or produce a final result like the party leader. They hope the process will be used to eliminate five Republican congressional seats, give the party a nationwide boost as it tries to maintain a narrow House majority, and shore up a permanent majority in the Legislature.
Under the York Constitution, the Redistribution Commission is at the forefront of making maps. But if it fails to build consensus among itself or gives lawmakers a map they don’t like, the legislature can dominate the body and install almost any map they choose, when As long as the districts meet the constitutional requirements and are almost equal. Shape.
Republicans in New York and Albany are certain to back down from the process and may challenge the result in the courts, which mapped the current Congress in 2012 amid a partisan dispute in Albany.
Republican commissioners wasted little time pointing fingers at their Democratic counterparts, whom they have accused in recent days of cutting off talks aimed at reconciling competing maps. Privately, Republicans fear that Democratic commissars have no intention of finding a compromise and would prefer to let the body fail to bring the process directly to the legislature to map out a more advantageous one for their party.
Republicans on the commission saw a lack of consensus as well as weaknesses in the Democratic plans. An independent commissioner, Ross Brady, said he had gone from being “very hopeful to extremely disappointed,” especially noting what he called a “large divergence” in the population in the Democrats’ map.
However, Democrats were ready to argue that competitive maps could be a good thing, allowing voters to compare alternative lines to advise the commission on which one they think is best. The commissioners stressed that Wednesday’s presentation of the two sets of maps did not close the door on the possibility that they would eventually find a consensus and release a set.
New York voters created the independent commission by constitutional amendment in 2014, but its outline was created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Republicans, who controlled the state Senate at the time. The idea was to draw the line out of the hands of politicians in the legislature eager to protect their party and their office bearers and give it to a bipartisan body from this year that could significantly divide the state.
But the commission struggled to assert its independence from the start, and critics say its structure – with most appointments nominated by party leaders in the legislature – is too difficult to compromise.
The panel did not receive funding from Albany until April, forcing the commissioners to volunteer their time for the first eight months. In contrast, the legislature has continued to fund its own map-drawing task force year after year.
Nor did the panel receive detailed census data until last month due to national delays; The panel is still awaiting population data on the state’s prisons that the commission needs to fix its map.