OK, here’s the background: NY is losing two seats in Congress, thanks to the 2010 Census. Well, more accurately, thanks to the urban blue model of governance that has had folks fleeing those urban areas in droves – but never mind that now. As has been noted previously, the New York legislature is having a devil of a time coming up with a map that backstabs the right people and groups, which is why the courts have stepped in and may take over the process of drawing the actual maps. Given that the Republican Senate and the Democratic Assembly and whatever-gets-me-a-Presidential-nomination Governor Andrew Cuomo are currently engaged in a three-sided brawl on the subject, this may actually even happen.
What makes this interesting is a report from earlier in the month that one potential plan to handle the downstate/upstate bloodletting – OK, let me explain that. The upstate districts in NY are where the GOP is strongest; the downstate districts are dominated by Democrats. The Democrats aren’t really in a position to eliminate two Republican-held seats, so the general assumption has been that one upstate GOP legislator and one downstate Democratic one will get worked over by this deal.
How that would work is complicated by New York’s convoluted recent electoral history. Right now there are eight Republicans and twenty-one Democrats in the NY delegation. Of the Republicans, only one – Bob Turner, in Anthony Weiner’s old seat – is a really good pickup opportunity; the rest are either freshmen who took back established Republican seats, or Pete King (and thus probably invulnerable). Diluting Hinchley – which is what the courts may want to do – probably won’t kill the re-election chances of anybody on the GOP side. On the other hand, Democrats William Owens and Kathy Hochul are in trouble in the general election: the first one is in office because the Republicans/Conservatives decided to split their strength for two consecutive contests; and the second one is in office because Chris Lee tried to cheat on his wife using Craigslist. Shorter version: Hinchley’s retirement makes keeping Turner’s downstate seat intact a good thing for the Democratic party, because the GOP probably won’t sit still for eliminating two Republican-held seats AND NY Democrats will need something to offset two possible (and plausible) losses this fall.
Believe me, trying to keep this stuff straight in my own head is difficult; I’m probably getting at least four critical details quite wrong.
Anyway, the prime candidates for the downstate bloodletting would be Carolyn McCarthy and Gary Ackerman; the two districts would be mashed together, the excess bits trimmed off and thrown at other districts, and the two Members of Congress would get to fight it out for the seat. Unless one of the two retires, of course. Rep. Ackerman, when asked, absolutely denied that he was going to retire – for that matter, he denied that his district was going to be redrawn. But there’s at least one interesting thing about Ackerman: his fundraising is reportedly in bad shape this cycle. Now, you can take that observation from the NRCC – plus, their observation that Ackerman’s sounding a lot like fellow NY Democratic Representative Maurice Hinchley, who ended up retiring- with as many grains of salt as you like. But here’s an important point; if the courts draw the maps then it doesn’t actually matter what Ackerman’s opinion is of what his district should look like.
The question then becomes whether Gary Ackerman actually knows that, too…
Moe Lane (crosspost)