Congressional competition is dying.
That’s the finding in a new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice: under new House maps in place after this redistricting cycle, “there are just 30 districts that Joe Biden won by less than eight percentage points in 2020 and, likewise, just 30 districts that Donald Trump won by less than eight points.”
The NYU Law-based group’s report, written by Michael Li and Chris Leaverton, applies the commonly-used 8% margin to define a district as competitive, and finds a historic nadir: “there are now fewer competitive districts than at any point in the last 52 years.”
States where one political party essentially controls the line drawing were responsible for big drops in competition, with Republicans doing more map damage since they control the process for more seats. But the outcome was different in states where commissions or courts drew new maps. Those saw “the percentage of competitive districts fall only marginally or even increase.”
One such state was New York, where the state’s highest court upheld a ruling forcing House and State Senate districts to be remapped by a non-partisan special master.
The Brennan Center calculation found zero districts that would have been competitive under the original maps pushed by New York Democrats. With the new court-ordered maps, “almost one in five seats are competitive, the highest percentage in the country for a large state.”
Long Island is a big part of that shift. Biden’s percent of the vote share was a mere .22% higher than Trump’s in the new CD1, where three Republicans are vying to face off against Democrat Bridget Fleming, a Suffolk County legislator. And Trump’s share was 1.52% higher than Biden’s in CD2, according to numbers from the center’s researchers. There, Rep. Andrew Garbarino is fending off GOP primary challengers Robert Cornicelli and Mike Rakebrandt, with his 2020 Democratic opponent Jackie Gordon in the wings. And CD3, which features a crowded Democratic primary, just barely misses the 8% cutoff, with Biden winning by just a hair more.
The upshot is that the narrowly divided House remains in play, but in uncompetitive districts, “the general election becomes increasingly insignificant.”
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Lawyering up for eminent domain dispute
Embroiled in a high-profile real estate dispute, The Village of Atlantic Beach has moved to retain the law firm Greenberg Traurig to help it build a community center on a site owned by the religious group Chabad Lubavitch of the Beaches.
A resolution to hire the firm was approved at a village trustees’ meeting on Monday. The vote happened to follow by five days former Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach joining the firm’s government practice. But Kaminsky reportedly is neither working on the case nor involved in the issue.
Rather, a spokesperson for the firm told The Point that the incorporated village is hiring its attorneys “to defend its rights in a federal district court lawsuit which falsely claims religious discrimination.”
The Chabad filed its lawsuit July 14 against Mayor George Pappas, Deputy Mayor Edward A. Sullivan and other trustees.
The Hasidic group says in its court filing that it acquired the property "with the intent of opening a Chabad House offering religious services, religious education, and other Jewish outreach activities." The site, they said, was picked for its high-visibility location close to the [Atlantic Beach Bridge], a main entryway to the Long Beach barrier island across Reynolds Channel.
The Chabad says the village board unanimously adopted a resolution last year to begin taking the Park Street properties by eminent domain – a specialized process by which a government entity can obtain private land for a public purpose by paying fair market value – shortly after a menorah lighting at the site to celebrate Hanukkah. Deciding a fair price, however, usually becomes a hotly contested issue. U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert has been hearing the case.
Village trustees say they’d actually begun the process of acquiring the properties in November 2020 for a recreational facility and community center with lifeguarded beach operations for the general public. Heatedly denying the discrimination claim, Pappas says in a statement on the village website that the village “will defend the actions we have taken on behalf of all our residents in the coming days and weeks.”
— Dan Janison @Danjanison
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Who said it?
With our amazing Michael Dobie on vacation this week, we’ll give you a different spin on our Friday quiz. Can you match the name in the news from the quote said this week?
1. Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter
2. President Joe Biden
3. Nassau lawmaker Carrie Solages
4. Rep. Lee Zeldin
5. Serena Williams
6. Attorney General Merrick Garland
7. Gov. Greg Abbott
8. Mariah Carey
9. Gov. Pete Ricketts
10. Spealer Nancy Pelosi
A. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
B. “In our state, we must work to protect the most vulnerable, and that includes our preborn babies.”
C. “You know, I kind of feel like Clint Eastwood. Go ahead, mayor. Make my day.”
D. “I don’t remember them ever telling us not to go.”
E. “I dressed up as Bad Sandy for Halloween in 5th grade and thought I was everything.”
F. “So far, this reeks of abuse, partisanship, and illegitimacy.”
G. “This is the kind of thing that people don’t see but it really helps to make it all happen.”
H. “I just want to say a number: zero.”
I. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor.”
J. “God has forgiven me, the community has forgiven me.”
For the answers to the quiz, click here.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall