CHELSEA, Manhattan (PIX11) — The dust is still settling following an earthquake of a decision, which is rocking New York politics with local and national implications.
The state’s highest court struck down the new congressional maps and state senate maps.
“There’s an old saying, ‘voters should choose their politicians and not the other way around,'” said Suraj Patel, an election lawyer and Democrat who is currently running for Congress.
He was unsurprised that the New York Court of Appeals found the congressional and state senate maps to be an unconstitutional gerrymander — designed to give one party an unfair advantage. Patel said members of his own party over-reached and tried to consolidate power, not only to harm Republicans, but all to keep challengers like him from having a shot.
“You can’t gerrymander voters,” he said. “The voters of New York in 2014 explicitly made it unconstitutional to do so.”
The most brazen change made by Democrats, now struck down by the courts, was an attempt to defeat Republican Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis. Democrats extended her Staten Island district north deep into traditionally liberal parts of Brooklyn like Park Slope. Now, all maps will be redrawn under the supervision of a judge and a neutral expert. Historically when that happens, lines don’t change that much.
“I expect my map will be relatively similar to the areas I represent now,” Malliotakis said.
With the redraw, the hope of New York Democrats seeking to all but guarantee themselves up to 22 seats in Congress out of the state’s 26 are likely dashed. There was pressure to make this happen ahead of a tough midterm election cycle with Republican controlled states like Texas and Ohio playing the same gerrymandering game — giving the GOP political advantages.
PIX11 News pressed the chair of New York’s Republican party, who help bring down the maps, about if there should be a national standard to avoid this sort of party politics.
“Each state should be able to pass its own rules of engagement,” Nick Langworthy said. “This was passed popularly by the people of the state of New York.”
The period ahead for New York State is unprecedented while the maps are re-drawn, which should take about a month.
The Appeals court is suggesting the need for two primaries: One in June for races like governor and State Assembly that are unaffected by this ruling; and another one in August for the re-drawn congressional and State Senate lines.