Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler are political institutions in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., having climbed the ranks to become influential committee chairs during their respective 30-year tenures in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Soon, one of them could be out of work. Both are now running for the same House seat.
In what could be one of the more closely watched races, the mashup is the result of a newly proposed congressional map that’s sent political candidates scrambling across New York to quickly stake out their turf and figure out which of the state’s 26 districts play best to their electoral strengths.
In a handful of cases across the state, incumbent lawmakers – including Nadler and Maloney – found themselves placed in the same district as one of their existing colleagues, setting up a choice between waging a high-profile primary battle to stay in their own district or preparing themselves to run to a new one.
It left some lawmakers furious, including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, whose home is now in the same proposed district as Yvette Clarke, a fellow Black lawmaker. In a statement, Jeffries said the proposed districts are “part of a vicious national pattern targeting districts represented by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
“Shame on everyone involved who have brought us to this point,” he said.
New York’s new congressional map was drawn by Jonathan Cervas, a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Cervas was put in charge of the mapmaking process by Acting State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister of Steuben County, a Republican. Cervas redrew the map just as the Democrat-heavy Court of Appeals ruled a previous, Democrat-drawn map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit the party.
Cervas’ proposal – which will be subject to public comment through Wednesday before they’re finalized Friday – made major changes to the Democrat-drawn map, leaving candidates to quickly find a home district they feel they could best win in. Much of his work appeared aimed at making districts more contiguous.
Cervas scrapped the Democrats’ proposed 3rd Congressional District, an unusually shaped district that would have stretched from western Long Island, through a tiny snippet of Queens and the Bronx and up into Westchester County. The Staten Island-centric 11th District currently held by Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis was redrawn to avoid the Democratic enclave of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, which Democrats had tried to include. He simplified the 10th District in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, eliminating a curvy, snake-like portion that Democrats previously used to connect it to the Upper West Side, now included in the 12th District Maloney and Nadler are seeking.
The maps made clear Cervas paid no mind to the home addresses of incumbent lawmakers. That left Jeffries and Clarke in the same district, as well as Nadler and Maloney, both Manhattan Democrats.
Within a couple hours of the maps’ release, Maloney and Nadler separately announced their plan to run for the newly drawn 12th District stretching from Midtown to upper Manhattan – setting the stage for a clash of the Democratic titans who entered the House within a few months of each other in the early 1990s, and leaving an open seat in the 10th District.
“I am proud to announce that I will be running to continue to represent the 12th Congressional District,” Maloney tweeted Monday afternoon. “A majority of the communities in the newly redrawn NY-12 are ones I have represented for years and to which I have deep ties.”
Said Nadler, just 20 minutes earlier: “I very much look forward to running in and representing the people of the newly created 12th district of New York.”
In the Hudson Valley, freshman Democratic Reps. Mondaire Jones of White Plains and Jamaal Bowman of Yonkers found themselves placed in the same district.
Jeffries, meanwhile, raised concern about Bed-Stuy being broken up among multiple Brooklyn districts, and he expressed anger that two pairs of Black lawmakers – Jones and Bowman are Black– were placed in the same district. Both McAllister and Cervas are white, Jeffries noted.
“This tactic would make Jim Crow blush,” Jeffries tweeted. “The draft map is unacceptable, unconscionable & unconstitutional.”
Further north, Republican Chris Jacobs and Democrat Brian Higgins were placed in the same Buffalo-based district. The same went for Republican Elise Stefanik and Democrat Paul Tonko, though Tonko is expected to run in a neighboring, Albany-based district.
In the Hudson Valley, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican running for the seat soon to be vacated by Lt. Gov.-designate Antonio Delgado, found himself drawn out of the 19th District entirely, though he said he still intends on running for it (members of Congress are not required to live in the district they represent).
“These are all communities I’ve gotten to know well since my gubernatorial run in 2018,” Molinaro said in a statement. “I’ve spent countless hours and driven thousands of miles meeting old friends and making new friends in this proposed district.”
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, thought to be Molinaro’s likely Democratic opponent, is instead opting to run in the newly drawn 18th District, which includes Orange County and part of Ulster and Dutchess counties. State Sen. James Skoufis, a fellow Democrat, also is eyeing a run in the 18th District.
Cervas’ proposal is not yet final, and both major parties said Monday they intend to make their case for changes before Wednesday.
The new proposal gives Democrats – who have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage in New York – a partisan edge in 21 of 26 districts, down from 22 in the prior, Democrat-drawn proposal. But several other districts have less of a Democratic edge than they did before.
Former Hudson Valley Rep. John Faso, who has been helping lead the Republican redistricting effort in New York, said the lines are “certainly better” for his party than the Democrat-drawn ones. But the GOP is still hoping to convince Cervas to make some changes.
“We believe these proposed revisions, which we will make by Wednesday, will build on and improve the plan put forth today,” Faso said Monday.
This piece has been updated to clarify that congressional candidates and representatives are not required to live in the district they seek to or currently represent.