The NY Democrats are pulling the congressional seat again to oust the Republicans

Democrats in New York have remodeled a central congressional district to give former Congressman Max Rose a big advantage in his attempt to regain the seat from the Republican incumbent rep. Nicole Malliotakis – filled with more liberal areas in Brooklyn to counter conservative Staten Island, political observers said Monday.

Malliotakis and other Republicans accuse the solution is underway after a “bipartisan” panel that almost persevered in strife failed to come to a compromise – leaving the redrawing of districts in the hands of the majority Democrats.

The 11th District currently encompasses the entire Staten Island along with like-minded neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn just across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bath Beach.

But in what sources say a clear biased gerrymander was to increase a Democrat’s chances of winning the 11th and several other congressional seats, the proposed district snakes its way from the island to Bay Ridge and then northwest to occupy the highly democratic neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Gowanus and Park Slope – end at the border of Smith Street, State Street and Flatbush Avenue.

The move has left the Malliotakis camp crying badly.

“This is a blatant attempt by the Democratic leadership in Albany to steal this seat, even after New Yorkers voted twice in a referendum on non-partisan cards,” Malliotakis campaign spokesman Rob Ryan said.

Rep.  Nicole Malliotakis' Staten Island district will include Brooklyn districts.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis’ Staten Island district will include Brooklyn districts.
Photo by Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

“These are the same cynical politicians who gave us the disastrous bail reform, released criminals from prison and raised our taxes. They know Congresswoman Malliotakis is popular and they can not beat her because of merit or public policy, so they change the limits for tilting the scale. “

Former President Donald Trump defeated Democrat Joe Biden by 55.3 percent to 44.7 percent in the 2020 presidential election in the 11th CD – a solid 10.6 percentage point victory.

Malliotakis defeated Rose by about 6 percentage points.

If the redesigned district were in place by 2020, Biden would have taken about 55 percent of the vote and Trump 45 percent – a turnaround at the top of the ticket that would have helped Rose.

Independent experts and even Democrats agree that their lines were drawn for maximum party political advantage.

Rose lost to Malliotakis by six percent in 2020.
Max Rose lost to Malliotakis by six percentage points in 2020.
AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta, Phil

‘Clearly, the increase in Democratic voters on the Brooklyn side of the 11th CD is amazing. Halving the Republican vote in Brooklyn is just as amazing, ”said Steve Romalewski, director of map services at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, which has analyzed the new districts.

Romalewski noted that voters approved a ballot in 2014 calling for a more “independent” redistribution process, but that plan was thrown out the window due to biased quarrels this year.

“I do not think you could find anyone who spoke up at a public hearing and said that Park Slope should be in the same district as Staten Island,” he said.

The longtime Democratic activist from Staten Island, Allen Cappelli, admitted that the redesigned district is a democratic gerrymander, but insists it is “no less a gerrymander than what Republicans in charge of redistribution do in states like Texas.”

“The responsible party is drawing the lines in their favor,” Cappelli said.

In New York, Democrats who control the state Senate and Assembly draw congressional cards every 10 years after the census.

Malliotakis campaign spokesman Rob Ryan accused the State Democrats of trying to do so "steal" the seat.
Malliotakis campaign spokesman Rob Ryan accused the State Democrats of trying to “steal” the seat.
AP Photo / Hans Pennink, Phil

State Senator Diane Savino agreed that the newly carved district is a potential gift and pick-up for Democrats.

“There are more democratically-oriented voters on the Brooklyn side of the district. They are high-voter voters. That would benefit a Democratic candidate for Congress,” said Savino, a Democrat whose own district includes parts of northern Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.

She noted that Staten Island still makes up about two-thirds of the district’s voters and that the 11th CD is “still a very competitive place.”

“It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s better grass for any Democrat than it was before,” Savino added.

Even some Democrats complained that the redesigned congressional districts are too unwieldy

Long Island Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is running for governor instead of seeking re-election to the 3rd Congress District, which has been expanded from three to five counties.

The 3rd CD currently cuts across the north coast of Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk counties and occupies parts of northeastern Queens.

The redrawn 3rd CD runs from Suffolk and Nassau through Queens to a small piece of the Bronx and then into Westchester County.

“I understand the goal the legislature is trying to achieve with this card, but I think it could have been achieved and served the interests of the residents better by having a more compact 3rd district that is not spread out over parts of 5 counties, “Suozzi said.

A Republican mapping expert accused Democrats in state law of participating in illegal redistribution for party-political gain.

“The notion that Staten Island is connected to Park Slope, or Glencove is connected to Mamaroneck – these things are crazy, and anyone who looks at this map will realize that this is a creepy map,” said the former GOP Hudson Valley Rep. John Faso.

“It’s pretty clear that the proposal they’ve made is unconstitutional. It’s a very clear biased gerrymander. The constitution says these proposals would be an excellent example of biased gerrymander – it divides communities and it creates districts that are geographically separated unnecessarily, “he said.

Faso continued: “You connect Nassau County with Westchester – does Congressman a rowboat or yacht cross Long Island Sound?”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the state Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, said the party is likely to sue to block the redistribution plan, which could halve New York’s Republican representation in the House, from eight members to four.

But a redistribution expert said the Republican Party of Malliotaki and New York are confused because the state and federal courts have historically refused to intervene or override party-driven redistribution cards.

“It would be very difficult to challenge the congressional plan in court. State courts prefer to leave redistribution to the legislature. No state court has rejected a plan passed by the state legislature for more than 50 years, ”said Jeffrey Wice, a professor at NYU’s Census and Redistricting Institute.

“There is little chance that any court will reject the new lines for this year’s election.”

Likewise, Wice said federal courts will not hear gerrymandering cases following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2019 that concluded that party claims do not belong in federal courts.

The redistribution plan also eliminates the 22nd Congress of the upstate GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney due to population loss after the census. She announced Monday that she is running for re-election in another district.


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