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Proposed New York map shakes up House races, deals blow to Democrats

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Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A court-appointed official in New York has released a redrawn map of the state's congressional districts that undoes a Democratic gerrymander and significantly improves the ability of Republicans to compete in the upcoming midterm elections. The fair map also creates an awkward situation for incumbent House Democrats, some of whom may now be forced to face each other in primary elections.

New York Democrats had initially adopted a congressional district map that aggressively gerrymandered district lines so that Republicans would lose at least three seats in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party had sought to offset gains Republicans made in red states that could threaten the Democratic House majority after the midterm elections this November. But in April, New York's highest court declared the Democratic map unconstitutional, ruling it violated an amendment to the state's constitution adopted in 2014 to end partisan gerrymandering.

The court appointed a special master, Carnegie Mellon political scientist Jonathan Cervas, to draw a fair map. Cervas released his proposal on Monday, which includes eight competitive districts compared to the mere three that he estimated existed under the Democratic proposal.

Cervas' map also attempts to fully compact as many counties into congressional districts as possible, resulting in just 15 split counties compared to 34 split counties on the Democrats' map.

The new proposal would shake up several House races. Democrats had targeted Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican that represents the Staten Island area, by adding a heavily-Democratic neighborhood of Brooklyn into her district to increase their odds of flipping the seat. The new map undoes part of that change, keeping Malliotakis' district a swing district.

Two powerful House Democrats, Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, may face each other in a primary as their districts compromising the Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan were consolidated into one district under the new proposal. Both are senior Democrats who lead the House Judiciary and Oversight committees respectively.

There could be another showdown between freshmen Democratic Reps. Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman, whose districts would partially overlap.

Districts currently held by Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi and Antonio Delgado, as well as Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino, would each become more competitive than they currently are.

The draft map was released Monday so that the public may comment before the final map is due Friday. Axios reported that Democrats expect the map will not change significantly between now and then.

New York's congressional primary elections are scheduled for Aug. 23.

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