Yesterday, on the subject of non-partisan redistricting, Chuck Schumer told reporters what he has been telling Ed Koch all along.
“Bottom line is that one thing you have to be careful at the Congressional level–I can’t comment on the state and local levels–is you don’t want to lose all that seniority if other states are not doing it,” said Schumer.
Schumer might be on to something. On Tuesday, nineteen chambers across the country flipped to Republican control, as the G.O.P. picked up 680 seats in state legislatures–enough that Rush Limbaugh believes “they could redistrict the Democrat Party into permanent minority status.” (Here’s a chart too if you want to visualize it.)
But for Koch–who has been busy leading a re-districting uprising–none of that should matter.
“The test of whether or not you’re a reformer is whether you support something that is universally perceived as reform when it doesn’t help you, and, in fact, might injure you or your party,” Koch said. “And that’s the case here with Chuck. For him, the party is more important than reform. I understand it, but I don’t agree with it.
“The fact is that 13 states have adopted impartial redistricting and it seems to me that any reformer worth his salt would say it’s absolutely imperative.”
Koch compared it to the lock on Congress a few decades ago, when Southern Democrats dominated the Congress from safe seats.
“The question should not be, ‘What about New York?’ It should be, ‘What about the country?’ And the country suffers in my judgment as a result of this,” he said.
Koch said he was not particularly concerned which way New York’s state Senate would swing, since all but 8 of the 62 senators signed his pledge, including the entire Republican delegation.
As for Schumer, Koch said he was naturally concerned that the state’s most popular Democrat might provide cover for others not to follow through.
“He’s a highly respected legislator, very powerful. Of course it’s a setback for us. But we shall overcome,” Koch said. “I appreciate Chuck’s opinion, but I will continue to try to change New York.”