NY primaries pushed back after gerrymandering debacle

NY primaries pushed back after gerrymandering debacle
Office of the Governor of New York via AP

It’s now been more than a month since New York’s highest court threw out the Democrats’ heavily gerrymandered congressional maps and ordered a “special master” to draw up new ones. Governor Kathy Hochul (whose Lt. Governor was recently forced to resign after being arrested on fraud and bribery charges) said she was “disappointed” with the ruling, but still hoped that the state’s June primaries could move forward as planned. She was also reportedly looking into ways that the Democrats could still force their maps through via some form of legal loophole. Neither of those plans seems possible at this point and the state has now been forced to move the primaries back until August 23rd. (NY Post)

New York’s congressional and state Senate primary elections will be pushed back nearly two months to Aug. 23, after the state’s highest court struck down the new district maps drawn by Democrats and approved by Gov. Kathy Hochul as unconstitutional.

State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister delayed the primaries from its original June 28 date, according to a decision released Friday.

He also ordered that the court-appointed special master, Jonathan Cervas, must create and publicly release new “impartial redistricting maps” for the US House of Representatives and state Senate by a May 20 deadline.

An already messy situation is now even more of a muddled disaster. The court ordered the congressional and state senate primary elections back to the last week of August but left the gubernatorial and state assembly primaries in place for June 28. That means that if they aren’t also moved, the state will be on the hook for the cost of two elections, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars. It will also probably drive down turnout for one or both sets of races.

The state legislature can move the other two races back to synch all of them up, but Hochul would need to sign the bill into law. Thus far she is saying she has no plan to do that, saying that “there is an election that will occur at the end of June.” Of course, if her party hadn’t gerrymandered the maps so atrociously she wouldn’t have this problem sitting on her plate.

“This entire situation is because the state Democrats decided to violate the constitution and enact an illegal redistricting. This can be laid all at their feet and be laid to blame but the courts saved us from an illegal, Democratic gerrymander,” said John Faso, a former Republican Congressman from the Hudson Valley involved in the lawsuit.

No matter how this plays out, the congressional and state senate primaries are going to be chaotic. The Special Master isn’t due to produce the new congressional district maps until May 20th. Even if he gets them out on time, none of the incumbents or challengers will know what district they need to be running and campaigning in until barely nine weeks before election day. And early voting starts well ahead of then, so the window of opportunity to reach many voters will be even shorter.

In roughly a month we should find out just how well the GOP can expect to fare in New York this November. The Democrats were hoping to pick up multiple seats to offset the ones they anticipate losing in Maryland and Florida. But if this new set of maps is drawn in anything remotely resembling a nonpartisan fashion, they may not pick up any. In fact, under some scenarios that the state Republican Party is looking at, they could conceivably wind up losing a seat. And those estimates are all being based on the last set of generic ballots without taking into account the potential for a red wave caused by the tanking approval ratings of Joe Biden and the Democrats. Stay tuned. Things could be about to get interesting in the normally solid-blue state of New York.

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