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New congressional map for N.Y. sets stage for major clashes in Democratic primaries

The proposed map would pit two House committee chairs against each other, while another district could have a showdown between a first-term progressive lawmaker and the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
New Yorkers cast their votes for the election in New York City on Nov. 2, 2021.
People vote in New York City on Nov. 2.Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file

A New York court released a draft of the state’s new congressional map Monday that would unexpectedly set up primary clashes involving high-ranking Democratic incumbents.

The map would create more competitive races than the previous version, which was drawn by the Democrats in the state Legislature but invalidated by state courts, citing gerrymandering. The latest draft, drawn by a court-appointed official, will be subject to public comment before the court is expected to approve a version without any substantive changes Friday.

Some districts would be home to more than one Democratic lawmaker seeking re-election under the new map.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler plan to face off against each other in a primary after redrawn boundaries put them in a new 12th Congressional District, which would cover the bulk of the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Maloney is the chair of the Oversight Committee, while Nadler wields the gavel for the Judiciary Committee. Both lawmakers, who tweeted their plans to seek re-election in the newly drawn district, were first elected to Congress in 1992.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who leads the House Democrats’ campaign arm and represents the 18th District, tweeted that if the map is approved, he would run in the new 17th District, which includes his home in Cold Spring. The seat is currently held by Mondaire Jones, a progressive lawmaker who is running for re-election.

Jones lives in White Plains, meaning the map would put his home in the new 16th District, where Jamaal Bowman, another progressive Black Democrat, is also seeking a second term in Congress. Jones declined to comment through a spokesman about his re-election plans under the new map, while Bowman's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hakeem Jeffries, who represents the 8th District, lives in Brooklyn at an address that would be in the new 9th District, represented by Yvette Clarke. Both lawmakers are members of the Congressional Black Caucus and are running for re-election.

House members are not required to live in the districts they represent as long as they live in the state.

Jeffries, a member of House Democratic leadership, blasted the map over the impact it would have on Black voters and lawmakers, calling it "part of a vicious national pattern targeting districts represented by members of the Congressional Black Caucus."

In his statement, he said drawing four members of the Black Caucus into two districts is “a tactic that would make Jim Crow blush.”

Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a voting rights and good governance advocacy group, also criticized the new map, arguing in a statement that it “divides communities of interest and neighborhoods, particularly in New York City, and ignores the cores of the existing Congressional districts.”

The congressional primary, initially scheduled for June 28, will be held Aug. 23 to accommodate implementation of the new map.

The coming congressional boundaries are more favorable to Republicans than the boundaries in the version of the map previously sought by Democrats.

There are 19 Democrats, seven Republicans and one vacancy in New York's current congressional delegation; the new map would have just 15 “safe” seats for Democrats. According to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Republicans could snag as many as 11 seats in a good election year for the GOP. The state lost one House seat after reapportionment following the 2020 census.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican from Staten Island, particularly has reason to celebrate: Her seat was shaping up to be a deep-blue district when state Democrats redrew the lines to include Park Slope in Brooklyn. Under the new map, it would be a competitive seat with a slight Republican lean, giving her an edge over former Rep. Max Rose, a Democrat who is seeking to win back the seat.