Skelos: ‘Non-Partisan’ Maps Also Draw Incumbents Into The Same Districts

John Sampson's district has a weird tentacle coming out of its Southeast that absorbs a candidate's house.

One of the more conspicuous map drawing tools available to majority parties during the once-a-decade redistricting process is placing legislators belonging to the minority party into the same districts. On Inside City Hall last night, Errol Louis asked Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos why so many Democrats suffered this fate. Mr. Skelos interestingly argued that a good government group’s redistricting proposal also drew incumbents together.

“Well, you want to remember, I believe Citizens Union did their plan. They did a so-called ‘non-partisan’ plan,” Mr. Skelos answered. “They had over 20 members of the assembly combined in districts and I think close to 10 in the senate.”

Mr. Skelos may have been referring to the map proposal put forward by a different good government organization, Common Cause New York. But the argument is a little strange, as Common Cause’s maps intentionally ignored incumbents and affected members of both the majority and minority parties, in sharp contrast with Albany’s proposal.

For example, two sets of Republicans in the State Assembly were drawn together, as well as three sets of Democrats in the State Senate. Additionally, another Democratic state senator saw his district oddly stretched to absorb the home of Democratic Councilman Lew Fidler, who’s running in a special election for the state senate.

“Many times some of the districts may look a little awkward, but you have the State Constitution that has to be followed,” Mr. Skelos said to explain the strange shapes. He added the rules governing the process “sometimes make the districts look a little contorted, but it’s still a legal way to do it based on the State Constitution, U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, called the proposed maps “partisan” and has vowed to veto them. It’s unknown how significant the maps will need to change for him to sign them into law. Skelos: ‘Non-Partisan’ Maps Also Draw Incumbents Into The Same Districts