View of New York State's senate chamber. Members of the Senate...

View of New York State's senate chamber. Members of the Senate and Assembly will take over congressional redistricting if a special commission can't agree on a map. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — A special commission unveiled dueling maps Wednesday for redrawing New York’s congressional districts in 2022, instead of unifying behind one proposal.

It's significant because the standoff between the five Republicans and five Democrats on the panel signals the commission isn't likely to unify behind one set of maps.

If they stalemate, it likely will clear the way for the State Legislature to take over the notoriously political process of redistricting, as in most states.

Political experts and advocacy groups expressed no shock at the development.

The idea the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission would agree on a bipartisan congressional map for New York always struck some as political theater.

"It was never designed to be the final word and so it’s no surprise," Blair Horner, the New York Public Interest Group’s legislative director, said of the commission after the competing maps were released.

"You can pretty much throw these competing NY drafts out," Dave Wasserman, of the nonpartisan Cook Report, wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "We're in the theatrical phase of the state's redistricting process."

With the stakes so high in Washington, it will be no surprise if the Democrat-led legislature wants to draw congressional lines to maximize the number of Democrat-leaning congressional seats, to help protect the party's eight-seat lead in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In red states, such as Texas, Republicans are pushing redistricting to help Republicans.

Horner and others have pointed out that the New York State Legislature always has had the power to take over the process from the commission, which released the dueling maps Wednesday.

"Republicans may squawk and I completely understand why. But the way America draws lines, in red states they are going after Democrats hammer-and-tong and the only state where Democrats can have an impact is New York," Horner said.

"How New York draws the lines might be of significance not only here but also for the country," Horner said. "So the pressure is tremendous."

Following the updated U.S. Census, New York will lose one congressional seat next year, leaving it with 26.

New York’s House delegation numbers 19 Democrats and eight Republicans.

In political circles, there’s widespread speculation that Democrats could try to draw the new lines to give them a chance to control up to 23 New York House seats.

That most likely would come from combining Republican districts and redrawing others to make them political toss-ups based on voter enrollment.

For decades in New York, the legislature was split, with Republicans holding the Senate. That forced the parties to compromise when drawing congressional maps every 10 years.

The situation also allowed the GOP to draw State Senate districts to benefit the party's reelection chances and keep them in control despite Democrats’ 2-1 voter enrollment advantage statewide.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2014 to create a bipartisan redistricting commission.

But good government groups have warned about its weaknesses for years.

It was filled with members with political ties.

It had an even number of Democratic and Republican appointees — all but assuring no majority vote on legislative maps would ever be taken.

And the legislature could simply reject any commission proposals and take over the process.

The commission was supposed to unveil a single map, but instead released two on Wednesday because some commissioners said they wanted the public to see different versions.

The panel will hold public hearings throughout the fall, with the aim of approving and advancing one final map to the State Legislature by Jan. 15.

If the commissioners fail — a distinct possibility because they are split on party lines — the legislature takes over, likely to produce a map by February.

"If there are members of the commission who are willing to make it easy for the commission to fail, then I guess they are advancing what the legislature really wants," Jack Martins, commission vice chairman and a former state senator, told Newsday.

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