New York Redistricting: Democratic State of Mind
February 11, 2022 · 12:42 PM EST
With a House majority of just five seats, plus an unpopular president hanging over their heads, Democrats need all the help they can get in their quest to maintain control of Congress.
The party received a major boost last week when New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law a new congressional map for the Empire State that could see Democrats increase the size of their delegation by as many as three members.
After gains made in the 2018 and 2020 state legislative elections, Democrats had full control of congressional redistricting for the first time in a century. And they made full use of that power, sidestepping maps drawn by the state’s new independent redistricting commission and instead passing a plan intended to result in a 22D-4R split in the delegation. Currently, the state is split between 19 Democrats and 8 Republicans. And the state lost a seat during reapportionment due to slowed population growth.
New York’s filing deadline is April 7, and the primary is June 28, though ongoing litigation over the new map could push those dates back.
All district redistribution numbers are courtesy of Daily Kos Elections.
The 1st District is one of several districts Democrats in Albany redrew to be more favorable to their party.
Previously Suffolk County from the eastern edge of Long Island inland to Brookhaven and Stony Brook, the 1st is still eastern Long Island-based but now stretches much further west along the North Shore all the way to Plainview in Nassau County. To compensate for that new territory, the 1st surrendered much of the South Shore to the new 2nd District, which picks up Brookhaven and runs through Westhampton and Quogue.
As a result, while it retains most of its uber-wealthy Hamptons enclaves, the 1st is considerably more Democratic than its previous iteration: Joe Biden would have carried it 55-43 percent, compared to President Donald Trump’s 51-47 percent win in 2020.
GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin has been a Democratic target for as long as he’s been in office, and this year he’s making it as easy as possible for his opponents to get rid of him — by running for governor instead.
Both parties have crowded primaries in the now-open seat. On the Democratic side, Suffolk County legislators Bridget Fleming (who placed third in the primary in 2020) and Kara Hahn were already running before the maps were completed. Jackie Gordon, who was the Democratic nominee for the 2nd District in 2020 (losing 53-46 percent) was running in the 2nd District but switched to the 1st after the maps were drawn. Fleming and Hahn have a fundraising advantage over Gordon, who only started running late last year, but Gordon is a proven fundraiser who raised $4.4 million in 2020 and is a favorite of DC Democrats.
On the GOP side, veterans’ advocate and Oyster Bay public works inspector Robert Cornicelli and former Brookhaven deputy supervisor/government affairs consultant Anthony Figliolia are running.
Given partisan lean and candidate quality, this is a good pickup opportunity for New York Democrats — as it was drawn to be. Initial rating: Lean Democratic.
Under the old map, both the 1st and the 2nd were competitive but Republican-leaning districts. For mapmakers in Albany, redrawing the 1st to be more reliably Democratic meant putting the 2nd out of reach for Democrats in the near future.
While the old 2nd was a compact rectangle between Massapequa in Nassau County and Islip in Suffolk County, the new 2nd now stretches along the South Shore from Massapequa east to Quogue. It would have voted for Trump by 14 points, 56-42 percent (up from 51-47 percent under the old lines).
With Gordon running in the new 1st District, freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino has no serious opposition. Solid Republican.
The new 3rd is still anchored by Huntington and Oyster Bay on the North Shore, plus a tiny sliver of Queens, but now stretches further east to Smithtown. Most notably, the 3rd now crosses the Long Island Sound to pick up parts of the Bronx and Westchester, including Pelham, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, and Rye (previously in Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Mondaire Jones’ districts).
Rep. Tom Suozzi is running for governor instead of seeking re-election, and there’s a Democratic crowded primary to replace him. Nassau County legislator Josh Lafazan, Democratic National Committeeman Rob Zimmerman, Suffolk County deputy supervisor Jon Kaiman, and healthcare consultant Melanie D’Arrigo, who won 26 percent of the vote against Suozzi in the 2020 primary, are all running.
But the race received its biggest jolt when state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi announced she would enter the race. Biaggi is the granddaughter of former Bronx Congressman Mario Biaggi, the decorated police officer who resigned after a corruption scandal. She’s also a rising star in Albany who came to prominence when she defeated powerful state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, the chairman of the renegade Independent Democratic Caucus, in 2018, an upset victory that helped Democrats win back control of the state Senate.
Despite having a statewide and even national presence that outpaces her opponents, Biaggi currently represents Westchester and the Bronx, which are new to and just a fraction (23 percent) of the traditionally Long Island 3rd District. And she’ll have to answer for some of the policy stances she’s taken, such as her past support for defunding the police, to a more socially conservative electorate.
In a crowded primary, having a unique base of support is not necessarily a bad thing, but geography shouldn’t be underrated as a challenge for Biaggi. Among the rest of the field, Lafazan leads in fundraising while Zimmerman has some institutional support from his time at the DNC.
Whoever emerges from the primary will be the heavy favorite in the general election, as the district would have voted for Biden, 56-42 percent. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice’s Hempstead-area seat is largely unchanged. It would have voted for Biden, 55-44 percent. Solid Democratic.
The southeast Queens 5th District traded a few thousand residents with surrounding districts but there are no major changes. If there’s any danger for Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, it is in the Democratic primary, given this district would have voted for Biden, 82-17 percent. But no primary opponent has emerged yet. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Grace Meng’s northeast Queens district saw minimal changes. Biden would have carried it, 61-38 percent. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s district still crosses three boroughs, from Woodhaven in Queens through Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and across the East River into Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Alphabet City, where it picked up some territory from Carolyn Maloney’s 12th District.
And while the 7th still runs southward from Dumbo through Brooklyn along New York Harbor, it now stops at Red Hook, rather than continuing down through Park Slope and Sunset Harbor.
That change was made to give mapmakers the space to divide the rest of west Brooklyn between 10th District Democrat Jerry Nadler and 11th District Republican Nicole Malliotakis, to Malliotakis’ disadvantage.
The changes have less importance for Velazquez, who has been in Congress since her initial election in 1992 and looks set to return next year. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ 8th District retains most of its shape and population. The 8th still resembles a backward “C” that curves from Bedford-Stuyvesant around Crown Heights and Brownsville, through Canarsie and the rest of southeast Brooklyn to Coney Island.
The district would have voted for Biden, 77-22 percent. And it could be home to the next leader of the Democratic caucus, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi retires and Jeffries successfully succeeds her. Solid Democratic.
The Crown Heights and Flatbush core of Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke’s 9th District remains, though it surrendered Prospect Heights and Prospect Park to Nadler’s 10th District, and now extends southwest to Bensonhurst rather than southeast to Sheepshead Bay.
Clarke had serious primary races in 2018, when she nearly lost to first-time candidate Adem Bunkeddeko, and in 2020, when she faced Bunkeddeko and two other challengers, Chaim Deutsch and Isiah James and won just 54 percent of the vote.
But Clarke caught a few breaks this time around. Bunkedekko doesn’t appear to be back for a third try. Furthermore, his strongest areas in Prospect Heights have been drawn out of the district. And though the 9th’s new territory would likely be favorable to Deutsch, the former city councilman pleaded guilty to tax evasion last year.
James is running again but won just 10 percent of the vote in 2020. Clarke may have serious primary challenges later in the decade but looks strong for this year. Solid Democratic.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s district is among the most tortured-looking in the country — and drew immediate condemnation from Republicans as a gerrymander. As it did before, the 10th runs all the way from Manhattan’s Morningside Heights down the East Side to Lower Manhattan and Chinatown.
It still skips across the East River to Brooklyn, where the changes start. The 10th now snakes south around Red Hook, and then reverses course to run north, up and around Park Slope and through Prospect Heights, before veering south once again through Borough Park all the way to Bensonhurst.
The district’s unique shape was necessitated by Democrats’ desire to add liberal Park Slope to Malliotakis’ 11th District to push her out of Congress, while still keeping Orthodox Jewish communities in Borough Park in Nadler’s district, which has the largest Jewish population of any district in the country.
The new 10th would have voted for Biden, 76-23 percent. Nadler looks set for a 16th term. Solid Democratic.
The Staten Island-based 11th is the only New York City district with a Republican incumbent: freshman Rep. Nicole Malliotakis.
Democratic mapmakers have done their best to change that. While the district still includes the entirety of GOP-leaning Staten Island, the parts of Brooklyn it includes have changed considerably.
Gone are the more GOP-friendly areas of Bensonhurst and Gravesend. In their place is a stretch of Brooklyn along New York Bay all the way up to deeply Democratic Park Slope and Boerum Hill.
As a result, the district has shifted from a Trump +11 district (55-44 percent) to a seat Biden would have carried by 9 points, 54-45 percent.
Former Rep. Max Rose is running again, as is Army veteran Brittany Ramos DeBarros. Rose, a decorated Army vet himself, won an upset in 2018 before losing to Malliotakis in 2020, 53-47 percent, and tried to appeal to the more conservative Staten Island voters that year by running ads attacking liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio. Ramos DeBarros, conversely, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Rose begins with an advantage as a former congressman who’s advertised in the New York City media market before, and he raised $812,000 in the last three months of 2021 while Ramos DeBarros raised just $453,000 over all of 2021.
But the primary has the potential to develop. Rose’s brash style and moderate politics might not go down so well with the nearly 200,000 new voters in the district, especially in wealthy, progressive Park Slope (neither may Ramos DeBarros’ democratic socialism). And de Blasio himself has reportedly been feeling out a run after declining to run for governor.
National Democrats will want Rose as the nominee, and if they get him, this seat will be high on the list of potential flips the party will be banking on to offset losses elsewhere. For now, given the new partisan lean of the district, the national environment, and the uncertainty about the Democratic primary, this race begins as a Toss-up.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney has faced serious primary challenges for the past two election cycles, and 2022 looks to be no different.
After fending off former Obama staffer Suraj Patel by increasingly narrow margins in 2018 (59-40 percent) and 2020 (42-39 percent), Maloney will face Google employee and community activist Rana Abdelhamid in the 2022 primary. Abdelhamid is endorsed by Justice Democrats, the insurgent progressive group closely tied to Ocasio-Cortez.
Maloney lives on the Upper East Side, and Manhattan is her base of support. But the 12th crosses the East River to pick up parts of Brooklyn and Queens that are far less friendly to her. In the 2020 primary she lost those areas by wide margins.
So it was a boost to the 15-term incumbent when mapmakers removed some of the most liberal, anti-Maloney areas of Brooklyn and Queens — Astoria (where Abdelhamid lives), Williamsburg, and parts of Greenpoint — from the district and added more of Manhattan.
Abdelhamid is a credible challenger who raised nearly $800,000 in 2021. And Maloney’s close calls make clear she can’t take the primary for granted. The district voted for Biden, 84-14 percent. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s Harlem-based district traded a few voters with Ritchie Torres’ Bronx-based 15th District but is largely unchanged. Biden would have carried it 88-11 percent. Solid Democratic.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district covers less of the Bronx now, ceding some territory to the 3rd District, but expanded within Queens to include Beechhurst (moved from the 3rd District), parts of the old 12th District including Astoria on the river, and all of Sunnyside and parts of Maspeth.
In 2020, a moderate, well-funded challenger lost the Democratic primary to Ocasio-Cortez, 75-18 percent. And then her Republican opponent raised and spent $11 million just to lose, 72-25 percent. Whatever Republican who runs against her in 2022 will likely raise a similarly staggering sum, and suffer a similarly steep loss.
The district would have voted for Biden, 74-25 percent. Solid Democratic.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres exchanged some voters with fellow Democrat Espaillat, but maintains nearly all of his Bronx district. Biden would have won it, 85-14 percent. Solid Democratic.
The 16th saw its borders change considerably, though just 33 percent of its voters are new to freshman Democrat Jamaal Bowman. Previously, the 16th was a compact combination of southern Westchester County and a piece of the North Bronx.
The new district begins in the North Bronx at Co-Op City and stretches north through inland Westchester County, picking up Yonkers and Scarsdale but wrapping around much of White Plains and Mt. Kisco, then running through Bedford and Yorktown before crossing into Putnam County and ending in Carmel — 30 miles north of its previous upper boundary.
Moving further from the city makes the district less Democratic. It would have only voted for Biden by 39 points, 69-30 percent, rather than 51 points. But that shouldn’t make life too difficult for Bowman. Solid Democratic.
The old 17th consisted of northwestern Westchester County, from Port Chester up to Peekskill, and all of Rockland County. The new iteration is much more expansive, stretching west from White Plains through all of Rockland County, southern Orange County, and all of Sullivan County.
Democrat Mondaire Jones already represents 74 percent of the new district, which is more Republican than its predecessor. Biden would have carried it by 13 points, 56-43 percent, compared to his 60-39 percent victory in the old district.
Jones doesn’t have a single announced GOP challenger, and had $2.6 million in the bank on Dec. 31. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney’s Hudson Valley district has also changed considerably. It shed parts of Orange County to the 17th District and parts of Westchester and Putnam counties to the 16th District, while expanding north into Ulster and Dutchess counties, territory that was previously in the 19th District.
Politically, redistricting makes Maloney slightly more secure. Biden would have carried the new district by 8 points, 53-45 percent, a small increase from his 52-47 win under the old lines. And former Gov. Andrew Cuomo would have won the new 18th by just a few hundred votes in 2018.
Republican state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt is running, but reported just $256,000 in the bank at the end of 2021 (compared to $1.7 million for Maloney). He’ll also have to respond effectively to attacks about the speech he gave to a busload of protestors headed for Washington, DC on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021.
The national GOP is hoping to put a scare into Maloney this year. But the congressman has a history of overperforming the top of the ticket. In his 2020 race he faced a credible opponent, investment banker/2018 Senate nominee Chele Farley, who nearly matched him on spending. He still won by 13 points.
This is a race that could develop as the cycle progresses, but the GOP still has a lot to prove. Likely Democratic.
The 19th is still mainly a Hudson Valley district, but begins further north now that it no longer has Sullivan County or the southern parts of Ulster and Dutchess counties. It also shed most of its Capital Region territory to the 21st District.
Most notably, the new 19th incorporates the eastern half of the old 22nd District, now extending north to Utica and west across the Southern Tier through Broome County.
Democrat Antonio Delgado currently represents just 47 percent of the new district, which would have voted for Biden by 10 points, 54-44 percent (a 5-point increase from the old district, which Biden carried, 52-47 percent).
That increase in Democratic vote share should help Delgado fend off a more serious challenger than he had in 2020, when Republicans failed to recruit a credible candidate. This time, the GOP got their guy: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. When Molinaro was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018, he actually would have carried the new 19th District by 3 points.
But Delgado is not Andrew Cuomo, and voters look at gubernatorial contests differently than they do the federal races that determine control of Congress. Delgado also had a 14-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over Molinaro at the end of 2021. Likely Democratic.
Democrat Paul Tonko’s Albany-area seat is largely unchanged, though it does now extend past Saratoga Springs into Warren County. Biden would have carried it, 58-40 percent, and Tonko’s only announced opponent is Liz Joy, the real estate agent he defeated 61-39 percent in 2020. Solid Democratic.
Elise Stefanik’s North Country district moves southward to pick up more of the outer Capital Region from the old 19th District, as well as the parts of Oswego, Oneida, and Herkimer Counties that previously made up the northern part of the old 22nd District. It also shed most of Jefferson County, on the shores of Lake Ontario, to the new 24th District.
Politically, those changes make the 21st — once on the edge of competitiveness — more Republican. Trump would have won it, 58-40 percent. Stefanik is a rising star in GOP leadership and looks set to return to Congress without much difficulty. (Her national profile means the Democrats running against her will raise a lot of money regardless of their scant chances). Solid Republican.
The old 22nd District, a pillar north from Pennsylvania up to Oneida and Oswego, is dissolved in the new map.
The new 22nd District is the successor to the old 24th District, from which it draws 69 percent of its population. The difference is that the new 22nd does not include Oswego County, but does include Ithaca (Tompkins County) and Cortland to the south.
The new 22nd would have voted for Biden, 58-40 percent. GOP Rep. John Katko is not seeking re-election, meaning that this district is one of the best opportunities for a Democratic pickup in the country.
There is already a crowded Democratic primary. The fundraising leader and likely best-known candidate is Francis Conole, a commander in the Navy Reserve who ran against Katko in 2020 but lost the Democratic primary, 63-37 percent. Former Boies Schiller partner Joshua Riley had been running against Tenney but is now running for the open 22nd and raised a solid $416,000 in the last three months of 2021.
Army veteran Steven Holden and Air Force Sarah Klee Hood are also running but have only raised about $50,000 each in the six months they’ve been in the race. Sam Roberts, a former state lawmaker from Syracuse, and Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok both announced their bids after the latest FEC filing deadline.
Katko was the rare politician who could overperform the top of the ticket by 19 points, and had he run again he could have held this seat for Republicans. Without him, it’s Democrats’ to lose. Likely Democratic.
The 23rd is still the Southern Tier, though it expands northward into Western New York, taking in what used to be part of the defunct 27th District. It also sheds liberal Ithaca in the east, and picks up parts of Broome, Cortland, and Chenango counties from the old 22nd District.
Republican Tom Reed is not running for re-election after he was accused of sexual harassment by a lobbyist and disclosed a drinking problem.
But the 23rd won’t quite be an open seat. That’s because Republican Claudia Tenney, whose current district was split up five ways, will run here rather than take on Stefanik in the 21st District GOP primary or Molinaro and Delgado in the 19th District primary and general elections.
Tenney’s path to the GOP nomination in the 23rd isn’t completely free of obstacles yet. She currently faces Reed’s former district director/Steuben County GOP chairman Joe Sempolinski, who Reed has endorsed. Tenney has never been the strongest campaigner, and only represents 9 percent of the new 23rd, but she received a big boost recently when Trump endorsed her.
Whoever emerges as the nominee will be the prohibitive favorite in the district, which would have voted for Trump, 59-39 percent. Solid Republican.
The new 24th District is drawn as a GOP vote-sink. The district connects deeply Republican areas outside of Buffalo and Rochester in Western New York with the Republican areas outside of Syracuse, allowing for an additional Democratic seat in central New York.
Slightly more than half of the new 24th is pulled from Chris Jacobs’ old 27th District between Buffalo and Rochester, and Jacobs will run here this year. Another quarter of the new 24th — part or all of Wayne, Cayuga, and Oswego counties north of Syracuse — comes from Katko’s old district. The final quarter is pulled from the old 21st, 22nd, and 23rd districts.
Trump would have won the new 24th, 59-39 percent. Solid Republican.
Barely anything has changed for Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle’s Greater Rochester district. Biden would have carried it 60-38 percent. Solid Democratic.
Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins’ Buffalo district is almost identical to its previous incarnation. It would have voted for Biden, 62-37 percent, and Higgins regularly does better than that. Solid Democratic.