Mike Bloomberg’s speech at the “No Labels” conference is expected to get underway shortly, but in the meantime his office has released a report detailing the benefits of taking redistricting out of the hands of legislators.
The report found that in this election cycle 49 percent of candidates elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and 57 percent of candidates elected to state legislatures won their races with margins of victory greater than 30 points, or faced no opposition at all. States with nonpartisan redistricting had races that were, on average, 14 percent closer for the state legislature and 24 percent closer for Congress.
The mayor has good company for this particular cause. Andrew Cuomo says he favors nonpartisan redistricting, and Ed Koch has launched a major statewide initiative aimed at getting it passed. Needless to say, legislators in Albany are less-inclined, although new Senate majority leader Dean Skelos did sign Koch’s pledge.
Says the mayor:
“The current system for drawing districts protects incumbents, promotes ideological extremism, and reduces voter choice. Gerrymandering is part of the reason why compromise and bi-partisanship are so rare these days. Voters in California and Florida overwhelmingly passed redistricting reforms in recent elections, and there’s no reason why, working with Ed Koch and our state legislative leaders, we can’t do the same here. It would be one of the best things to happen to Albany since the building of the Erie Canal.”