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Analysts: 2 NY congressional seats in jeopardy

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy campaigns at the Mineola LIRR

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy campaigns at the Mineola LIRR station in Mineola. (Oct. 28, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

New census data to be released later this month means New York is likely to lose one or even two congressional seats - and one could be from Long Island, some political analysts say.

The data is expected to document a decline in the state population that will trigger a reapportionment of congressional districts, a redrawing of district lines based on population changes. If one seat is eliminated it is expected to be upstate due to population shifts. Though many experts expect a second lost seat also to come from upstate, some say a seat on Long Island - possibly the one held by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) - could be in danger.

"I don't see it as impossible at all," said Republican consultant Michael Dawidziak of Bohemia, adding that a retirement by McCarthy, for instance, would be one way to resolve the situation.

Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant based in Manhattan, also said he thinks New York will lose two seats, and that McCarthy's could be in play. "This is a possibility that is being discussed," he said. "Something has to give."

However, C.W. Post professor Stanley Klein, a Suffolk GOP committeeman, said he was skeptical about that scenario. "I think that's wishful thinking on the part of the Republicans," he said.

McCarthy spokeswoman Jessica Montgomery said Friday that McCarthy has no plans to retire.

Other seats that experts think may be in danger include the one held by Democrat Louise M. Slaughter near Lake Ontario. But if two seats are eliminated, most experts expect one to come from each party.

If New York loses two seats, it will sink to its lowest number of congressional representatives in 200 years. The current 29-member delegation would shrink to 27 - the same number as in 1813, when there were only 181 total congressional seats. Today there are 435.

New York's delegation peaked in the 1940s at 45.

Congressional districts are reapportioned every 10 years after new census data comes out. The slower growth in New York's population in recent years, compared with other areas of the nation including the Southwest, will mean fewer congressional representatives with the new alignment.

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