Congressional races in the city shifted course drastically this week, after the release of new, contentious — and now final — maps drawn by special master Jonathan Cervas, whom a judge appointed to steer the redistricting process after originally proposed maps were struck down as unconstitutional earlier this spring.
In Manhattan, Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s traditionally East Side-centric district, NY-12, now includes all of the Upper West Side and Midtown, but none of Queens or Brooklyn. With the changes to the lines came an unforeseen and well-established Upper West Side challenger, longtime NY-10 incumbent Rep. Jerrold Nadler.
“I believe these newly proposed lines by the Special Master violate the NYS constitutional requirements of keeping communities of interest together and keeping the cores of existing districts largely intact,” Nadler alleged on Monday, when the drafted congressional maps, along with new state Senate lines, made their rounds for a brief period of public comment.
In the same statement he announced that he would “very much look forward to running in and representing the people of the newly created 12th District of New York.”
After a finalized version of the maps was approved late Friday evening, with no changes in Manhattan, Nadler confirmed his run and added that the “new district belongs to no individual candidate, but instead to the voters who call it home.”
Third-time congressional candidate Suraj Patel and new hopeful Rana Abdelhamid, who has campaigned in District 12 since the spring of last year, both now find themselves up against not one entrenched representative, but two. Re-announcing his run in the district, Patel said, “change is on the ballot.”
“There are no incumbents in this race,” he added.
An Unexpected Twist
The unexpected twist comes after new maps show NY-10 excluding the Upper West Side to cover all of Lower Manhattan, plus a larger swath of Brooklyn. Drafts of the statewide congressional maps rocked politicians, pundits and staffers early in the week, spurring an almost immediate outpouring of speculation regarding the course of the final few months of campaigning — as well as announcements from a number of high-profile candidates throwing their hats in the ring in Downtown Manhattan, even before final lines were set in stone.
State Senator Brad Hoylman was among the first to voice his consideration of a campaign in NY-10. “With the Roe draft decision, LGBTQIA kids attacked every day, the gun violence epidemic, and the climate crisis, it’s clear we need progressive, experienced leadership in Washington,” he tweeted on Monday. By Tuesday, he’d seemingly confirmed his run, telling The City, “I’m in.” But on Saturday, he announced he’d instead be running for re-election in Senate District 47.
Others, including Assembly Members Robert Carroll and Yuh-Line Niou, also publicly expressed their interest in running. “I have received an outpouring of support from community leaders urging me to run in #NY10,” Carroll wrote on Twitter, adding that he’d confer with his “family and friends.”
And on Wednesday, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he’d launched an “exploratory committee” to eye a run in the now-crowded district. “Our neighborhoods need help as we recover from Covid. Our nation needs help as democracy is threatened and working people struggle,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am ready to serve to continue the fight against inequality.”
On Friday morning, before the maps were finalized, he made it official, “declaring” his run outright on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. De Blasio has a home in Park Slope, part of the new District 10. Though for local congressional races, candidates need not live in the district they seek to represent.
After midnight on Saturday morning, Rep. Mondaire Jones, whose current representation of NY-17 was threatened by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s decision to also run there instead of in his current NY-18, announced he’d launch a campaign in NY-10, “the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement,” he tweeted. “Since long before the Stonewall Uprising, queer people of color have sought refuge within its borders.”
Others — including Senator Simcha Felder, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon and former City Comptroller Scott Stringer (who City & State now reports is weighing a run for New York State Senate) — have also reportedly contemplated joining the race. Maud Maron, originally a candidate in NY-12, announced she is “likely to be back in District 10.”
Maps Felt Far And Wide
Across the state, the new congressional maps now threaten Democrats’ hold of House seats, a change which could be felt nationally, the New York Times reported when the initial draft was released. Whereas previously proposed maps were overwhelmingly advantageous to Democrats in all but four of the state’s 26 districts, the final set features eight districts now considered, by Cervas’ account, to host competitive races.
“This is a huge swing against Democrats from the plan that was struck down,” analyst Dave Wasserman told the Times. “Democrats could lose a lot of ground this fall and that could drive a stake through their hopes of keeping the House majority.”
In a five-page order preluding a report with the finalized district lines, Justice Patrick McAllister wrote to dispel public “misconceptions,” claiming in one instance that “the fact that this map will likely result in more than four Republicans being elected to Congress does not mean or indicate in anyway that this map is gerrymandered to favor Republicans.” While “maintaining cores of districts is an important part of the constitution,” he wrote, lines had to “change significantly” due to the lower number of congressional districts necessitated by census results.
McAllister also acknowledged that the “time frame for developing new maps was less than ideal.”
Online, the spectacle of the new maps — and the free-for-all that ensued — reached far and wide, spurring confusion, jokes and utter exhaustion. “I would like a 72 hour moratorium on white men announcing possible runs for Congress in NYC,” activist Katie Unger tweeted. It was only Monday, mere hours after the draft maps had been released.
“I hear the entire state has been drawn into NY-10 and we will all run in it,” NYS Senator Jabari Brisport tweeted late Friday evening.
The congressional and state Senate primaries were previously delayed from the end of June and will take place instead on August 23. Other primaries, like those for NYS Assembly, are still slated for the original June 28 date.
“Our neighborhoods need help as we recover from Covid. Our nation needs help as democracy is threatened and working people struggle. I am ready to serve to continue the fight against inequality.” Bill de Blasio