It was always fair to doubt that Kathy Hochul would govern as a centrist, as some once suggested, but her signature last week on a redistricting bill that flouts voters’ wishes and violates New York’s Constitution might come as a shock even to the biggest skeptics.
The legislation would let the Democratic-controlled Legislature draw new state-legislative- and congressional-district lines if the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission fails to vote on its own new maps by its Jan. 15 deadline, which is a real possibility. Indeed, the new law itself might well sound the death knell for the panel, which was set up after New York voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment calling for one in 2014.
Voters reaffirmed their vote for the panel just this month when they shot down — by 10 points — a ballot initiative that would’ve weakened its independence. But Democrats, emboldened by the supermajorities they now enjoy in the Legislature, see an opening to end-run the commission.
Recall that in September the IRC failed to produce a single set of maps, as was required, and instead offered two sets, one from Democratic members and another from Republicans. Now, if the commission doesn’t vote on one set by Jan. 15 and the Legislature takes up the redistricting, as the new law provides, count on the Dems to gerrymander the GOP into an even weaker position than it’s in now.
Consider, too: New York is losing one congressional seat thanks to population loss. Democrats could conceivably trim Republican seats from eight of 27 to just three of 26. Of course, they won’t be happy until they hold every local, state and federal seat in New York — and put in place laws, like the one Hochul just signed, to make sure that never changes.
Never mind that one-party rule has already hurt New York. Democrats who dominate state politics have ignored pushback on key issues like bail reform, leading to more crime, and tax hikes, which sock taxpayers, hurt businesses and jobs and send the wealthy fleeing. But now, ignoring the Constitution — and voters who’ve already twice demanded fair, nonpartisan redistricting — well, that truly sets a new low.
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