The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment – or LATFOR for short – released its suggestions for new State Senate districts last week, and the governor promptly promised to veto them.
Legislative district lines, from Congress all the way down to the City Council, have to be redrawn every ten years following the Census to accommodate for changes in population and demographics.
While LATFOR is made up of members from both parties and non-politicians, whichever party is in control generally controls the process, and in the case of the State Senate, that’s the Republicans.
And in this case they set out to screw the Democrats, particularly in New York City.
In Queens, for instance, LATFOR created a State Senate district in Northeast Queens that would force incumbent state senators Tony Avella and Toby Ann Stavisky to run against each other, as well as another that would force fellow incumbents Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta into a contest.
It would be an especially sticky wicket for Gianaris. The proposed new district includes only a small piece of Astoria and Gianaris' old State Senate district, and combines it with the majority of Jose Peralta's current district in large sections of Corona and Jackson Heights.
The new district would be close to 60 percent Hispanic, a distinct edge for Peralta, in addition to the name recognition he already enjoys in the area.
But things would be awkward behind the scenes in an Avella-Stavisky race. The new district includes much of Avella's current State Senate district, an area that he also served in the City Council, and he is a very popular legislator and would have a great chance at holding on to the seat.
However, Stavisky's son, Evan, is a major figure in The Parkside Group, a consulting firm that does big business with the Queens County Democratic Party, so Stavisky might actually get the backing of the party, which doesn't mean as much as it once did, but still comes with a lot of resources.
But all the fun isn't just in Queens. Down in Brooklyn, LATFOR drew up a district that would force Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery to go after the same seat. Both are sitting state senators with strong support.
Another interesting thing to note in Brooklyn occurred in State Senator Martin Malave Dilan's district, which stretches from North Brooklyn to Cypress Hills. Or rather, it's interesting to note what didn't happen.
Dilan was actually a member of LATFOR, and coincidentally all of the creative gerrymandering that happened all over New York City seemed to be a non-issue for him - his district didn't change hardly at all!
Membership has its privileges, we guess.
But all of this is really just fun on paper. It looks Governor Andrew Cuomo will veto LATFOR's suggestions, and it will be back to the drawing board, either with a redo for LATFOR, or a new set of district lines from an independent redistricting commission, which is what Senate Democrats are pushing for.
And, we have it from a political insider up in Albany,that all of these changes to New York City is really just a big red herring to keep the Democrats occupied while the Republicans go after what they really want: a drastic redrawing of a district in the Buffalo area to protect a new Republican state senator, and the creation of an entirely new district in the Albany area that would be favorable to Republicans.
Both would help the Republicans keep the razor-thin majority they currently enjoy in the State Senate.