The New York State Capitol in Albany.

The New York State Capitol in Albany. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

ALBANY — The State Legislature approved a new map for New York’s 26 congressional districts Wednesday, giving Democrats better odds of winning a small number of additional seats while not going as far as Republicans feared.

In fact, more than a dozen Republicans in the Senate and Assembly voted in favor of the new map, and the GOP state chairman issued a statement saying the party would not challenge the map in court.

The vote would appear to put to an end — for now — of a long-running, bare-knuckle political fight over redistricting being watched nationally.

Gov. Kathy Hochul quickly signed the map into law, doing so because the qualifying period for congressional primaries begins Thursday.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The State Legislature approved a new map for the state's 26 congressional districts, giving Democrats better odds of winning a small number of additional seats.
  • On Long Island, the new map could help Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) by removing GOP-heavy Massapequa from the 3rd District and replacing it with parts of Huntington and Huntington Station.
  • In exchange, the 1st and 2nd congressional districts would each become slightly more Republican.

On Long Island, the new map could help Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) by removing GOP-heavy Massapequa from the 3rd Congressional District and replacing it with parts of Huntington and Huntington Station.

In exchange, the 1st Congressional District, held by Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) and the 2nd Congressional District, held by Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), would each become slightly more Republican.

Democrats on Monday voted down a map proposed by a bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission. Assemb. John McDonald (D-Cohoes) said that map had “flaws that needed to be corrected,” such as splitting some communities and counties.

“Today, with significant bipartisan support, the NYS Legislature passed a new map that addresses and resolves the concerns and issues raised in the version that had been approved by the IRC,” McDonald said.

Overall, even though the map was drawn by Democrats, it made modest changes to congressional boundaries already in existence.

The most noticeable change was to give Democrats a better shot at defeating freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) in a central New York district. A handful of seats remain swing districts that could come into play nationally, given the GOP's narrow six-seat margin in Congress.

Though Republicans feared a radical rewrite, there were almost no complaints about the map that was enacted.

While debating the bill, Republican questions and critiques focused on the mapmaking process rather than raising objections to the outcome.

In the Senate, three GOP lawmakers voted for the map: Sens. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), Alexis Weik (R-Sayville) and Bill Weber (R-Rockland County). The final tally was 45-17.

In the Assembly, the tally was 115-33. More than a dozen Republicans voted in favor, including Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski).

GOP Chairman Ed Cox criticized Democrats for rejecting a map proposed by a bipartisan panel, but said final map was not “materially different” from the current one and, “as such, there is no need for further litigation.”

State lawmakers also gave final passage to a pair of bills tied to redistricting.

One changed the start of the petitioning period to qualify for June congressional primaries to Thursday. Previously, it was set to begin earlier this week, but no map was in place.

The second limits geographically where a future Republican lawsuit against the map could be filed. Instead of filing in any of the state’s 62 counties, lawsuits would have to be filed in either Manhattan, Albany, Buffalo or Westchester County — in short, one venue for each of New York’s four judicial regions.

Wednesday’s vote marked the latest milestone in the long-running fight over congressional districts in New York.

In 2022, the state’s highest court agreed with a Republican lawsuit that said a map drawn by the State Legislature constituted an illegal gerrymander to help Democrats gain as many as six seats. The Court of Appeals ordered a “special master” to draw new map, which helped Republicans gain seats here and win narrow control of Congress.

Democrats currently hold 16 seats in New York; Republicans, 10.

Later, Democrats successfully sued to have the courts declare that the 2022 map was a short-term fix and the process should start over.

Per the state constitution, the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission took the first step of drawing and proposing a new map. The legislature voted it down Monday, clearing the way for it to propose a new version.

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