New York Democrats are already preparing their battle plan to contest the ruling and insist the fight is not over. Yet it represents a massive psychological blow to the party that had just weeks ago celebrated its luck after an aggressive redistribution push.
“I do not think anyone will have to go into therapy because of it. But let’s put it this way: it’s not the kind of news the Democrats wanted,” said former Representative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat. and the former leader of the party’s congressional campaign arm.
“When you go into a tough middle ground, you fight for every farm. And when the referee tells you that you have lost yardage, it does not help the team spirit, ”said Israel.
The legal bomb comes after several weeks of gloomy headlines for the party: stubbornly high inflation, President Joe Bidens’ stopped agenda and violent GOP gerrymanders who have either evaded similar legal investigations (in Ohio) or are considered the rubber stamp of cooperative state courts (in Florida).
Few Democrats believe that a favorable New York card alone could save their threatened majority – especially because they were on the verge of getting as many as three seats and could still pick up some during the new process.
Yet it is a severely weakened morale for the Democrats, who have suddenly lost their biggest victory in the redistribution battle, while facing even stronger headwinds in November. It is also the home state of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (DN.Y.), who leads the House campaign arm and has worked closely with other National Democrats on the party’s redistribution strategy.
In some corners of the party, it has caused intense frustration – and finger pointing – over how it could be avoided.
‘I think it looks bad. I think we have an egg in our face, ”said the rep. Kathleen Rice (DN.Y.), who is retiring from his Long Island seat next year. She was among some Democrats who questioned whether the Legislature had exceeded when it created a map that was so strongly skewed toward the Democrats when the state constitution put a check on gerrymandering.
“It didn’t have to be that way,” she said. “We could have made lines that were fair and followed the rules and still been effective in ensuring that Democrats are represented.”
The redistribution mess dominated a discussion of the state Democratic delegation during a Zoom meeting Thursday, according to several people on the call. Members expressed concern about the uncertainty and confusion surrounding the process and discussed potential legal options to combat the ruling.
Two seemed to gain the most traction: The Attorney General was able to offer a legal opinion stating that New York’s primary election should be held as planned in June, ensuring that the current cards will stand. Alternatively, the state legislature could ask the state appellate court for a proposal to reconsider its decision, perhaps in the hope that it would at least restore the drawing power back to the legislature.
“One thing that worries me constitutionally is the fact that the legislature was solely wiped out by the process,” the rep said. Adriano Espaillat (DN.Y.). “And the state constitution is very aware of their role.”
Maloney, who heads the Democratic congressional campaign committee, stressed that the current law required primary elections to be held on June 28.
“It’s the law,” Maloney told reporters Thursday afternoon, referring to state plans primary date June 28th. “Another will have to change the federal court order. It’s in effect right now and the state is bound by it.”
The decision hits Democrats hard, as New York was the largest state in which they had total control over the card-making process – their best chance of filling their house numbers.
After a bipartisan commission failed to agree on a congressional proposal, the democratically controlled legislature took over the process and produced a card that would give Democrats new secure blue seats upstate and on Long Island, while probably also convicting the GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis in New York City.
Court rulings have changed the district with bomb after bomb in recent months in blue and red states. Democrats have achieved some victories of their own after the courts forced Republicans to draw cards in Ohio and North Carolina to create more opportunities for their opponents.
But none of these cards are likely to remain in place over the course of the decade, thanks to wrinkles in each state’s law. And in other red states from Texas to Florida to Tennessee, Republicans have so far got away with ruthless cards locking their dominance.
“I want to tell you the New York decision – there’s a lot of buzz around it,” the rep said. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Another former congressional campaign armchair. “You think a bit like Democrats, if you have a democratically led state, that it will turn out to be okay. And it does not.”
In New York, the new card will be drawn by an impartial specialist – where neither party is able to influence the outcome.
The cards drawn by a court a decade ago led to the election of 19 Democrats in New York’s 27 districts by 2020. The cards drawn by the democratically dominated state legislature in February would have made their party a favorite in 22. the now 26 seats.
It is unlikely that the drawn cards would be completely catastrophic for Democrats in a blue state. But it certainly will not be so favorable.
“When the ship goes down, we scream about norms and precedents. Maybe we should think about what the other guys are doing,” said a New York Democrat who has followed the process closely and was given anonymity to discuss the situation openly.
Consider the districts of eastern Long Island. Held by GOP representatives. Lee Zeldin and Andrew Garbarino: Both have tipped against Republicans in the last decade. Any card drawn by an external expert prior to this year’s redistribution would have left them largely unchanged. The Democrats eventually packed blue voters into Zeldin’s seat and pushed all the reds into Garbarinos.
“The districts as they have existed are quite balanced,” said GOP President Nick Langworthy about these Long Island seats. “The champion has an extraordinary leeway in this situation, but he was hired by a referee to do justice. So I think you would have a final work product that would show justice.”
Many potential map configurations would involve the loss of a Republican seat upstate, as the size of the New York delegation shrinks from 27 to 26, in part due to population losses in the region. The four seats are occupied by GOP representatives. Claudia Tenney, Tom Reed, Chris Jacobs and John Katkoretiring could essentially be combined into three.
But it is still unknown whether the special champion will also do what the Democrats tried to do, adding Ithaca to Katko’s swing seat in the Syracuse area to make it an almost-lock for their party.
Asked Thursday afternoon if he would consider running again, now that the state got a new card, Katko only replied, “Wow.”
Democrats also tried to make Malliotakis’ district far more favorable to their party by replacing a conservative piece of Brooklyn and replacing it with Park Slope. Malliotakis’ district will need some changes compared to its current configuration – Staten Island is not populated enough alone to have an independent congressional district – but it is far from a guarantee that the special master lines will be as beneficial to her. challengers like the Democrats. would have been.
“This is Albany’s arrogance that was on display,” said Reed, the GOP legislator who withdraws this cycle after 12 years in the house. “Kudos to the judges for not falling victim to the political strategy they used.”