A state Court of Appeals decision knocking out a Republican redistricting map puts control of the Nassau legislature back in play this November, county Democrats say.
It means the Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick), who was displaced by the new lines, has a district again and doesn't have to fight Democratic incumbent Joseph Scannell of Baldwin for the right to run.
It means Scannell gets his former Republican opponent Christian Browne as his challenger again this year; Democratic candidate Delia DeRiggi-Whitton won't have to move out of Glen Cove if she wins the 18th district race; and former Democratic Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs regains 70 percent of her existing 16th district, including her hometown of Woodbury, which she had lost in the new map.
The decision also means that longtime Legis. John Ciotti (R-North Valley Stream), whose district was redrawn to include more GOP voters and fewer minorities, will run in his existing 3rd District, which is more than 60 percent minority. He is up against Democrat Carrie Solages, who is black. Solages has already raised $80,000.
Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said the new lines -- approved by 10 Republicans on the 19-member legislature -- would have shut out a generation of Democratic candidates.
"Our view was if we lost (the case), for 10 years or more, voters would not have a choice of a Democratic majority," said Jacobs, who is also the state party chairman. "Hopefully we get the opportunity to draw the lines when we win back the majority in November. It will be done in a less partisan, more bipartisan process."
Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) responded, "Politically speaking, all Nassau County will remember what Democrats did to them with tax increases and out-of-control spending. We are running on our accomplishments of no tax increases . . . and we're continuing to cut the size of government."
The new lines had put Denenberg in Scannell's district. "I was confident that judges with lifetime appointments would see through this power grab," Denenberg said.
Republican Fred Jones would have challenged Scannell under the new lines, but Browne is the chosen GOP candidate under the old lines. "I'm back in," Browne said Tuesday. "I'm going to campaign. I'll get out there and make my case."
Judy Jacobs, who had been put into a new 16th district with DeRiggi-Whitton, said, "I am ecstatic. Angry at them for what they put us through but ecstatic."
Democrat Solages, an attorney who filed a friend-of-the-court brief against the new lines, said he is delighted by the decision. "It allows my community to stay intact as one collective voice," said Solages of Elmont, who is running against Ciotti. Ciotti could not be reached.
With Sid Cassese