Final congressional and state Senate maps still bring political upheaval

The court released district lines with a number of big changes and plenty of chaos for Democrats.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Rep. Carolyn Maloney are at the center of the biggest races influenced by redistricting.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Rep. Carolyn Maloney are at the center of the biggest races influenced by redistricting. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

The independent expert hired to redraw New York’s congressional and state Senate district lines released the final maps early Saturday morning, marking a significant step toward ending the nationally watched fiasco that upended the 2022 election cycle and could jeopardize Democrats’ majority in the House.

What changed in the final congressional maps?

The new lines for Congress saw some significant shifts in the final version of the map, particularly in parts of Brooklyn and in Erie County – though many districts largely stayed the same. After receiving testimony following the release of draft maps on May 16, special master Jonathan Cervas, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, reworked the 11th Congressional District, which encompasses all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. Previously, he drew the district to include the more liberal neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Red Hook while splitting Bay Ridge in half. In a court document explaining the changes, Cervas said he listened to testimony regarding unifying Bay Ridge in one district – the 11th District – as well as those regarding keeping certain communities of interest in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn united. The 11th District added Bensonhurst in the final map and ended up as a district that voted for Donald Trump by 7.6 percentage points, which will be more favorable for Rep. Nicole Malliotakis that the 2-point GOP advantage that existed in the draft maps.

Those changes also impacted the newly drawn 10th District, which had already attracted significant interest. Cervas took Sunset Park and Red Hook from the 11th District and added them into the 10th District, uniting them with Chinatown in Manhattan while keeping Park Slope and Borough Park part of the district. Meanwhile, the proposed 9th District lost Bensonhurst and Cervas gave it more of Central Brooklyn heading up to Kensington while moving Bedford-Stuyvesant from the 9th District into the 8th District.

In western New York, the final map once again unified Buffalo, which Cervas had originally split between two districts, and it kept Erie County contained within two districts rather than three.

Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney remain in the same newly drawn 12th District that spans the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of Manhattan. They both confirmed in statements their previous intentions to run in that district, meaning a primary between two long-term and powerful members of Congress is happening. 

Rep. Nydia Velázquez confirmed on Saturday morning that she would run for the 7th Congressional District, sticking with her plan from before the court released the final lines. This despite the fact that the new map significantly redrew the district she currently represents – and she now lives in the new 10th District. “I am proud to be running in my current district,” Velázquez said in a statement, while criticizing the redistricting process overall and expressing her belief the final lines violate the Voting Rights Act.

In the Hudson Valley, where Democrats lobbed criticisms at Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney over his choice to run in the 17th District, currently represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones, Cervas changed very little aside from unifying Kingston. Maloney’s controversial decision, surprisingly, pushed Jones to announce early Saturday morning that he would run in the 10th Congressional District in Manhattan and Brooklyn, despite being a lifelong suburbanite and currently representing parts of Westchester and Rockland counties. “This is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement,” Jones, who is Black and gay, said on Twitter. “Since long before the Stonewall Uprising, queer people of color have sought refuge within its borders.”

He joined a crowded field in the 10th District, where more than a dozen candidates announced interest in running for the open seat after the release of the draft maps. Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced his candidacy for the district, which covers his home neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn. Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou announced on Saturday morning that she’s running for the seat.

But, Assembly Member Robert Carroll said that he would not run for Congress. Meanwhile, New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera has not confirmed whether she intends to run for the 10th District after a late-night tweet on Friday indicating that her decision would hinge on the final configuration of the districts.

Jones’ announcement seemed to clear up the potential contentious Westchester primaries that he faced against either Maloney or Rep. Jamaal Bowman – who was grouped with Jones under the new lines. The 18th and 19th Districts remained largely the same, so Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is likely to continue his run for the 19th District, while Democratic Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan will continue to seek the 18th District.

Long Island also experienced some changes that shifted the partisan leans of the 1st and 2nd Districts. The final map split Suffolk County down the middle, so that the 1st District would compromise the North Shore and eastern tip of the island while the 2nd District became a South Shore district. That means that the 2nd District, which leaned Democratic in the original proposal, now leans Republican, and the 1st District becomes slightly less red. All but one district on Long Island still remains open, with two members running for governor – Reps. Lee Zeldin and Tom Suozzi – and Rep. Kathleen Rice retiring.

What changed in the final state Senate maps?

Cervas made a number of changes to the state Senate lines on Long Island in response to comments he received after releasing his draft. Notably, he redrew Senate District 4 as a new majority-minority district similar to one that the good-government group Common Cause New York proposed in its testimony. Former state Sen. Monica Martinez is reportedly planning to run for that seat, which includes her base in Brentwood. She previously represented and had planned to run for District 3. Meanwhile, Senate District 6 became a much bluer district in the final map, and state Sen. Kevin Thomas intends to run there rather than District 5, where he currently lives.

In Brooklyn, the final state Senate map included a new district, Senate District 17, where about half the population is Asian. Democrat Iwen Chu is still expected to be the front-runner for this seat. And like at the congressional level, Cervas listened to comments to unite Bay Ridge after having previously split it. State Sen. Andrew Gounardes announced he would run for reelection in District 26.

Upstate, Cervas also reunited Buffalo after having initially split the city and grouped it a portion with a more rural part of Erie County, acknowledging that the communities did not share interests. He placed the cities of Utica and Rome within the same district and kept the configuration in Rochester the same given that both parties in the lawsuit agreed about what those state Senate districts should look like.

As of Wednesday, former New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer was reportedly weighing a run for state Senate District 47, which stretched from the Upper West Side down to the Meatpacking District. But state Sen. Brad Hoylman said he would run for reelection in District 47 rather than run for Congress in the crowded 10th District. With Hoylman’s announcement, Stringer’s plans may change but that remains unclear. Hoylman’s decision means that he won’t need to primary state Sen. Brian Kavanagh after the final map placed them in the same district.

In other state Senate shakeups, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera announced that he would run for reelection in the new District 33 rather than in District 31, which would have pitted him against state Sen. Robert Jackson after new lines placed Upper Manhattan and western portions of the Bronx into the same district.

What’s next?

Cervas had received pushback from several groups leading up the final lines being released that the draft lines broke up communities of interest, which are protected under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Democrats’ most prominent argument centered around the splitting of historically Black communities. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries launched an ad blitz in which he said the new lines, which divided Bedford-Stuyvesant into two districts, for example, were “enough to make Jim Crow blush.” It’s unclear whether Jeffries or other groups will challenge the final lines on those same grounds.

Plus, multiple pending lawsuits could shift the election schedule. The League of Women Voters filed a request in federal court to consolidate all primaries in August, consistent with the new schedule for the congressional and state Senate races. The gubernatorial and Assembly primaries are still slated for June 28. The Assembly maps are also being challenged in Manhattan Supreme Court, after Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister turned down the plaintiffs’ bid to overturn the maps as part of the Steuben County lawsuit on the grounds that it was too close to the scheduled June primary to redraw Assembly lines.