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New York court approves redistricting map, throwing some races into chaos

New York court approves redistricting map, throwing some races into chaos
A New York judge gave final approval to redistricting maps for New York's 26 congressional and 63 state Senate districts. The maps merge the districts of incumbent Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler (L) and Carolyn Maloney, putting them on course to face each other in an August primary. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

May 21 (UPI) -- A New York court formally approved the state's new congressional and state Senate maps, setting the stage for some Democratic incumbents to face one another in primary races.

The new maps for New York's 26 congressional and 63 state Senate districts, approved just prior to the midnight Friday deadline set by Justice Patrick McAllister of State Supreme Court in Steuben County, contain only minor changes from drafts submitted Monday by court-appointed mapmaker Jonathan R. Cervas.

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The new congressional map would merge the Manhattan seats held by Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, Democratic committee leaders who have served side-by-side for three decades. The two representatives now appear on course to face one another in a primary.

Rep. Mondaire Jones, another Democrat who would face a fellow incumbent in a re-election bid for his Westchester County seat, announced he would forego re-election for his district and would instead run for the newly reconfigured 10th Congressional District, which covers portions of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The 10th District seat is not expected to draw competition from any other incumbents, but former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio previously announced he would run for the seat.

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Democrats currently hold 19 of New York's 27 House seats, and a plan enacted by the party in February would have made them favored to win 22 of the 26 seats after redistricting. The New York State Court of Appeals threw out the maps proposed by Democrats in April, alleging they were drawn with political bias.

The final map approved Friday night gives Democrats the edge in 21 of the 26 districts, but many of the races are now expected to be more competitive under the approved map.

Republican candidates also announced some reshuffling Saturday morning in light of the new maps, with Rep. Chris Jacobs of Buffalo announcing he will now be seeking a seat in a Southern Tier district that was formerly held by fellow Republican Rep. Tom Reed. Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney announced she will be running for Jacobs' current seat.

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McAllister's order approving the maps contained a defense against criticisms voiced in recent days against Cervas and the court. The judge, a Republican, admitted the rushed time frame for the drawing of the maps, which were drafted out of the public view, was "less than ideal," but he hailed the final maps as "almost perfectly neutral. He pointed out the maps give Democrats 15 safe seats, Republicans three safe seats and eight swing seats.

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"Unfortunately some people have encouraged the public to believe that now the court gets to create its own gerrymandered maps that favor Republicans," McAllister wrote. "Such could not be further from the truth. The court is not politically biased."

New York's statewide primary election is slated for Aug. 23.

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