‘Major Changes’ in Redistricting, Maybe, But Not Necessarily Reform

Democratic Senator John Sampson said the shape of the senate districts on Long Island will “change substantially” and predicted “there will be an African-American elected to the State Senate on Long Island.”

“So there’s going to be substantial change when it comes to redistricting,” Sampson said, speaking on 1600 WWRL with host Errol Louis.

For years, there was a gentleman’s agreement in Albany when it came to redrawing legislative lines, which happens once a decade: Democrats draw the lines for lines for the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Republicans draw the lines for seats in the Republican State Senate. Congressional lines are carefully negotiated.

Now, Democrats control the Assembly, State Senate and the governor’s mansion, so, Republicans won’t have much of a say in the matter.

Long Island had been a stronghold for the Senate Republicans for decades, but that has steadily been eroded. Democrat Craig Johnson won a special election in 2006 and earlier this year, Democrat Brian Foley ousted long-time Republican Senator Casear Trunzo.

Electing more Senate Democrats could relieve that conference of relying on finicky members who, until last night, were still threatening to ruin the Democrats’ chances of taking over that house for the first time in four decades.

Which is to say that even if the anti-democratic gentleman’s agreement between the parties goes away, the process isn’t like to get any less political. At least not without a major fight.

While reform-minded lawmakers like Michael Gianaris, have sought to take political consideration out of the redistricting process, others, like Representative Joe Crowley, have argued that this is the Democrats’ chance to get back at Republicans who redrew congressional and state legislative districts in their states for years to eliminate Democrats.

‘Major Changes’ in Redistricting, Maybe, But Not Necessarily Reform