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New York congressional map would make modest tweaks to swing House seats

A new New York congressional map would make it easier for Democrats to flip at least one seat this year in a state critical to Democrats’ hopes of retaking the U.S. House majority. But an independent commission otherwise left the lines similar to those used in 2022 when Republicans picked up four House seats in New York.

The proposal, approved Thursday by the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission, still needs to be passed by the state legislature before it becomes the map used in this year’s election. Democratic leaders in Albany can choose to instead advance a map that is more favorable to their party, but would almost certainly face legal challenges.

The new map mostly spared Republican incumbents who flipped seats in districts won by President Biden in 2022 who were worried their seats would become bluer under the new lines. Only the district of freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R), in Central New York, was shifted into more Democratic areas, making an already prime pickup opportunity for Democrats even more likely.

“Changing lines won’t change minds—voters want common sense and relief from Progressive fantasies,” Williams wrote on X about the his new district.

Commissioners also redrew two other swing districts — the 18th Congressional District held by Rep. Pat Ryan, a Democrat, and the 19th Congressional District held by Rep. Marcus J. Molinaro, a Republican — that made them safer for the incumbents.

Other competitive districts, including the seat flipped by Democrat Tom Suozzi in a special election this week, remain virtually unchanged, leaving the political battleground intact. New York remains central to national Democrats’ drive to retake the House majority in 2024.

When Suozzi is sworn in later this month, the New York congressional delegation will be 16 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Democrats are hoping they can flip a few more seats into their column, with Williams now a prime target. Those pickups would go a long way in the Democrats’ quest to win back the House. They currently need to net four seats to win back the House majority.

While Democrats nationally outperformed historic expectations in the 2022 midterms, they did poorly in New York where Republicans prevailed in six districts won by Biden in 2020. One of them was captured by Republican George Santos, who was later expelled from Congress over accusations that he stole money from campaign donors. Suozzi took back the seat for Democrats with tough talk on immigration, appealing to the moderate and independent voters needed to turn out in swing districts.

Rep. Michael Lawler (R), who faces a challenge from former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D), praised the new lines, which do not change his current district.

“New Yorkers deserve a fair map,” Lawler said. “The bipartisan map adopted by the Independent Redistricting Commission is fair and should be adopted by the legislature, as per the state constitution. Any attempts to change it should be rejected as another attempt at a partisan gerrymander.”

The New York state legislature, controlled by Democrats, could still reject the map and attempt to draw their own. In 2022, after the independent redistricting commission failed to approve a compromised map, the Democratic state legislators drew a map that would have given their party an edge in 22 districts, compared with four where Republicans would have had an advantage.

But New York’s highest court struck down the Democrats’ new congressional map as unconstitutional, siding with Republicans who had sued over complaints that the new lines were drawn to help Democrats win more seats.

If the Democratic state legislature decides to draw their own maps again, they could leave themselves open to another court challenge that could complicate the timing of the state’s June 25 primary.

Adrián Blanco Ramos contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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