NY Ratings: Part II


In January, we wrote that the Empire State’s endearingly-named ‘Hochulmander’ would join Illinois as a critical part of the national Democratic redistricting phalanx. There was little expectation of a successful Republican appeal at that time.

In April, the State Court of Appeals struck down the gerrymander. Neutral appointee Jonathan Cervas, tasked with drawing the new lines, released his final proposal on May 20th. Barring any ‘hail mary’ litigation, that court-ordered map will be in place this November. And so Split Ticket must analyze New York’s lines for the second time this year.

The Cervas map is not perfect, but it is objectively fairer than the Hochulmander. Going by 2020 Presidential lean, 21 seats supported Biden while only 5 broke for Trump. Given the Republican-leaning national environment, though, the GOP could come out of 2022 with up to 11 districts.

When it comes to imperfections, two main criticisms have been levied at the map. The first argues that Jewish voting power in Brooklyn is unnecessarily-diluted and the second claims that Manhattan’s new north/south split maligns decades of east/west traditionalism. Both of these complaints seem poised to fall on deaf ears ahead of the August 23rd primary elections.

District 1 (Suffolk County) (Biden +0.2)

District 1 is a marginal Long Island seat stretching from Huntington out to the Hamptons. This version of the district is 10 points redder than its Hochulmander predecessor because Cervas swapped out minority-heavy territory in Islip and Babylon for more Republican parts of Brookhaven and Smithtown.

With Congressman Lee Zeldin retiring to seek the governorship, the Suffolk Republican organization has endorsed Nick LaLota. Unless a formidable challenger like County Executive Steve Bellone enters the race, Democrats appear unified behind County Legislator Bridget Fleming.

Until there is evidence to suggest that the national environment is not explicitly advantaging Republicans in this district, Split Ticket feels comfortable calling them favorites. Leans Republican

District 2 (Suffolk, Nassau Counties) (Trump +1.5)

District 2 is a predominantly South Shore seat. It is bluer than the Trump +14 voter pack crafted for the Hochulmander, but still leans toward the GOP. To make the 1st more Republican, Cervas added all of Islip and Babylon into the 2nd. Outer Islip still accounts for much of the district’s Republican base, but newly-added Hispanic precincts in the municipality’s northwest boost the district-wide Democratic floor.

The new seat makes up for GOP territorial losses in Nassau County by pushing east into Brookhaven. Perhaps the only solace to local Democrats is the relative inelasticity of the minority vote, though a slight rightward swing was observed among Islip Hispanics in 2020.

Republican incumbent Andrew Garbarino would be at greater risk in a more Democratic year, but he should be a favorite in his rematch against Jackie Gordon in a Biden midterm. It is also important to remember that the 2nd is historically more Republican down-ballot than the 1st. Likely Republican

District 3 (Nassau, Queens Counties) (Biden +8.1)

District 3 now connects just Nassau and Queens counties. Cervas removed the controversial bay-hop draw, which had connected portions of Westchester County north of the Bronx to this otherwise Long Island-oriented district. This version of the 3rd is a bit redder than its current iteration, but Republicans will need to outrun the fundamentals in North Hempstead and Queens if they want to win here; Oyster Bay alone is not a viable coalition.

Democrat Tom Suozzi is leaving this district to run for Governor. On the Republican side, 2020 nominee George Santos appears to have a lock on the nomination unless former mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa runs. The Democratic field has become more uncertain since frontrunning state Senator Alessandra Biaggi’s Pelham home was pulled out of the district. If she drops out of the race, it might give County Legislator Josh Lafazan’s campaign a new lease on life. Leans Democratic

District 4 (Nassau County) (Biden +14.5)

The 4th is located entirely within Hempstead, a municipality where the large minority population usually outvotes more Republican ring communities like Garden City and East Rockaway.

Congresswoman Kathleen Rice is retiring this year, opening the door for ex-Town Supervisor Laura Gillen to win the crowded Democratic primary. Anthony D’Esposito and Bill Staniford are the two GOP candidates.

Rice had competitive races under the current lines in both 2010 and 2014, so there is reason to believe that the new 4th could also come into play if the environment heavily favors Republicans. Likely Democratic

District 10 (Greenwich Village, Financial District, Park Slope, Sunset Park)

District 10 connects Manhattan’s lower third with the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope and Sunset Park. This safe seat’s Democratic primary is shaping up to be one of the most crowded of the cycle. The three most notable candidates running so far are ex-Mayor Bill DeBlasio (Brooklyn), 17th district Congressman Mondaire Jones, and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou (Manhattan – Chinatown). State Senator Simcha Felder (Brooklyn) has also considered a bid.

Jones is the most interesting contender because he opted to move south to Greenwich Village to seek reelection in the 10th rather than contesting a double-bunking against Sean Patrick Maloney. It is too early to handicap this growing field, but a fractured Manhattan vote could make it easier for Brooklyn to unify behind one candidate. One should also keep in mind that the Brooklyn portion of the 10th accounts for a majority of its population.

District 11 (Richmond County, Kings County) (Trump +7.6)

District 11 no longer includes Park Slope and Sunset Park as it did under the Hochulmander. Instead, the Staten Island-based district sweeps into the less Democratic neighborhoods of Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst in southern Brooklyn. The design changes solidify the Republican path to holding a district that initially appeared highly vulnerable.

Cervas’s modifications are music to the ears of Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis because Max Rose, the Staten Island Democrat unseated comfortably in 2020, no longer has communities like Park Slope to tilt the 11th’s district-wide lean decisively toward the Democrats. It is hard to see how Malliotakis could possibly lose a Trump +8 seat in a Biden midterm, especially when Richmond County’s voting power holds more sway than it was initially expected to. Malliotakis would have carried this seat 67-28 in her 2017 mayoral bid. Safe Republican

District 12 (Upper East Side, Upper West Side)

Breaking decades of tradition, the court-ordered 12th district introduced a north/south Manhattan split. That decision double-bunked Democrats Jerry Nadler (West Side) and Carolyn Maloney (East Side), both of whom have been in Congress for 30 years and chair key committees (Judiciary and Oversight).

Nadler has never faced a competitive primary challenge and reportedly assumed that Maloney would not run against him. Others expected Nadler himself to run in the southern 10th district, which is more like his present seat despite excluding his home. Most of the new 12th is currently represented by Maloney, giving her a territorial advantage, but it would be unwise to count out Nadler’s ability to wrangle together the institutional support needed to win this Central Park-demarcated battle.

District 17 (Westchester, Rockland, Putnam Counties) (Biden +10.1)

District 17 is a modestly-Democratic seat spanning part of the Lower Hudson Valley. It is more Republican than its current form because Cervas replaced White Plains with redder territory elsewhere in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties.

Congressman & DCCC Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney is the 17th’s new incumbent. He took flak for challenging fellow incumbent Mondaire Jones rather than contesting the 18th district, but Jones has since moved to the 10th to pursue a long-shot reelection. Jones, who is gay, has claimed the birthplace of Manhattan’s LGBT movement as his new base.

Maloney is no stranger to tough races, but his district swap is not at all a reelection guarantee. His only Republican opponent so far is GOP Assemblyman Mike Lawler, a new member of the state’s lower chamber. Leans Democratic

District 18 (Orange, Dutchess, Ulster Counties) (Biden +8.3)

Just a bit more competitive than the 17th, the reshaped 18th district straddles the middle of the Hudson Valley. Trading Putnam and Westchester counties to its southern neighbor, the former seat of Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney now takes in additional turf in Ulster and Dutchess counties. Both Poughkeepsie and Newburgh remain in the new district.

The leading Democrat in this open seat is Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, also his party’s candidate for the 19th district special election. If Ryan upsets Marc Molinaro in that race, he has indicated that he will run for a full term here. Whether Ryan wins or not, he would face Assemblyman Colin Schmitt in the general election. Leans Democratic

District 19 (Broome, Tompkins, Sullivan, Columbia Counties) (Biden +4.6)

The current Biden +1.5 iteration of the 19th is favored to flip to the Republicans in the August special election triggered by the resignation of Democrat Antonio Delgado to replace disgraced Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin. If that result comes to fruition, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro will have a short period of incumbency before having to seek reelection in the new 19th. Attorney Josh Riley, a former staffer to ex-Congressman Maurice Hinchey, is the leading Democratic candidate.

November’s District 19 covers the Upper Hudson Valley and the Catskills. The seat’s observable Democratic lean comes mostly from Tompkins County (Ithaca – Cornell University) and to a lesser extent Broome County (Binghamton). Tossup

District 22 (Onondaga, Oneida Counties) (Biden +7.4)

Ithaca’s placement in the new 19th district shifts the redrawn 22nd 10 points rightward, eliminating incumbent Republican John Katko’s primary stimulus to retire. Despite his long record of garnering impressive levels of crossover support in the Syracuse area, Katko is still set on retirement.

Cervas’s plan keeps the 22nd oriented around Onondaga County, but adds in Oneida (Utica) – home to Claudia Tenney. But Tenney has also declined to run here, leaving legislator Mike Sigler and businessman Brandon Williams in the field. Sigler lives outside the district in Tompkins County. Republicans would benefit most from a candidate like Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, who has a proven record of winning blue turf. Democrats have a crowded assortment of candidates, but ex-Navy Reserve commander Francis Conole seems like the early front-runner.

Katko showed the world that Onondaga is red enough down ballot to engage in ticket splitting for the right GOP candidate. That, plus the favorable Republican environment, is enough to make this contest anyone’s game. Tossup

District 23 (Western NY & Southern Tier) & 24 (Western NY & Finger Lakes)

Incumbents Chris Jacobs (NY-23) and Claudia Tenney (NY-22) have artfully avoided running against each other. Jacobs will be seeking election in the redrawn 23rd, a district that combined familiar territory in western New York with new turf in the Southern Tier.

That part of the state was up until recently represented by Tom Reed, who resigned after previously announcing retirement. Reed endorsed Steuben County Republican Committee Chair Joe Sempolinski to replace him in the July special election under the old lines. A Sempolinski victory would create an artificial double-bunking with Jacobs. If he loses the general election primary after winning the special, he will merely serve out the remainder of Reed’s term. Safe Republican

Tenney is running in the western New York/Finger Lakes-based 24th district. This seat is similar to the one Jacobs currently represents, but the more overtly conservative electorate in this part of the state seems like a much better fit for Tenney than that of the 22nd that she flipped back in 2020 while posting a significant underperformance. Safe Republican

%d bloggers like this: