ALBANY — An upstate judge signed off late Friday on a new set of congressional and state Senate maps drawn up by a court-appointed expert tasked with crafting nonpartisan boundaries.
The new districts were finalized one month after the state’s highest court scrapped lines drawn up by Democrats earlier this year, determining that they unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps and failed to follow the proper redistricting process.
Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister pushed back on criticisms that the final product favors Republicans as he defended the work of special master Jonathan Cervas.
“Unfortunately some people have encouraged the public to believe that now the court gets to create its own gerrymandered maps that favor Republicans,” McAllister wrote in his approval filed near midnight. “Such could not be further from the truth. The court is not politically biased.
“The timeframe for developing new maps was less than ideal. not by choice but by necessity,” he added.
Preliminary maps released earlier in the week sent shockwaves through New York’s political world as incumbent Dems vowed to primary one another and critics cried foul accusing Cervas of intentionally ignoring communities of interest across the city.
Thousands of letters poured into the court calling on McAllister to amend the maps before finalizing them.
Cervas notes in his submission that changes were made from the draft maps that now unite Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to historically Black communities, including Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
The final maps will still shake up Dems as Midtown Manhattan is now combined with the Upper East and Upper West Sides in one district, pitting sitting Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney against one another.
A new seat representing Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn has drawn the interest of former mayor Bill de Blasio and nearly a dozen other Dems, including Rep. Mondaire Jones who saw his Hudson Valley district essentially co-opted by neighboring Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
The new lines, which will be in place for the next decade, come after Democrat-drawn congressional maps were deemed unconstitutional by New York’s high court.
The Court of Appeals found the Dem-led Legislature unfairly drew up blue-leaning districts and disregarded a constitutionally-mandated process after an independent commission failed to reach a consensus on competitive lines.
Maps drawn up by the Dems would have given Democrats an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts. Now, the newly proposed lines include eight competitive districts.
Republicans need to pick up just five seats to flip the House from blue to red in November.
New York’s congressional and state Senate primaries were pushed back to Aug. 23 in order to give Cervas time to finalize his maps. Assembly and gubernatorial primaries are still scheduled for June 28.
Republicans celebrated the new, more competitive boundaries.
“Today is a good day for democracy. Democrats’ scheme to rig the election is finally dead beyond revival,” state GOP chairman Nick Langworthy said.
While the initial Republican-backed lawsuit that prompted the do-over did not challenge the legality of the Assembly maps, several legal efforts have been made to get them tossed as well.
A separate federal lawsuit seeking to combine the state’s primaries in August was filed on Thursday by the League of Women Voters.
That suit argues that the Board of Elections unlawfully certified primary ballots for statewide races, including the governor’s race, since candidates collected signatures based on the since-scrapped congressional maps.
Democrats could launch yet another legal challenge against the new maps, further complicating the process and adding to the uncertainty surrounding the state’s primaries.