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Redistricting Commission Proposes (Not-So) New Map

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February 15, 2024

By Barrett Seaman—

After months of hearings and internal deliberations, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission (NYIRC), led by Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins, released its proposed Congressional voting districts for the 2024 election. If the map is approved by the state legislature (and that remains a big IF), it will mean the lines separating Districts 16 and 17 will remain pretty much exactly as they were in 2022.

As it did in the last election, the fault line between the two districts runs right through Tarrytown, veering sharply northward along the crest line to the Sleepy Hollow border before cutting back east into the center of the county. That will mean that residents of the village who live close to the river will be voting in CD-17. That’s where Democrat Mondaire Jones is trying to regain his seat from Republican Mike Lawler, who beat out Sean Patrick Maloney in 2022. Voters to the east, from Benedict Avenue up through Wilson Park, will be voting in CD-16, where first term incumbent Jamaal Bowman is facing primary challenges from County Executive George Latimer and political newcomer Marty Dolan of Irvington.

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Voters in Sleepy Hollow will be in CD-17, while Irvington and Dobbs Ferry are entirely within CD-16.

Both districts have traditionally voted Democratic, with CD-16, which runs through parts of Yonkers, doing so more consistently. It contains both substantial Jewish and Black populations. Had the redistricting lines brought some of the predominantly Black neighborhoods of the Bronx into the district, it could have counterbalanced what is perceived to be a significant Jewish vote in the Greenburgh communities, including Hastings, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry and Irvington. This is a year when that could be significant.

Latimer has the backing of the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), the rich and powerful pro-Israel lobby that has targeted Bowman for his pro-Palestinian comments. The campaign rhetoric has turned nasty recently, with Bowman supporters promoting an alleged exchange in which Latimer told a woman in Yonkers that the incumbent congressman had taken money from Hamas. The Latimer campaign fired back, saying that after a string of gaffes and missteps starting with the fire alarm fiasco at the Capitol Building, this was “another day, another baseless attack from the scandal-plagued Jamaal Bowman.”

Bowman, in turn, accused Latimer of “baselessly” accusing him of accepting money from Hamas; his campaign sent a letter threatening Latimer with a defamation lawsuit.

Watching all this with a hint of glee is Marty Dolan, a longshot third primary candidate who is pleased with the new district lines, he says because it is “a win for Westchester and in particular for the long-term strength of its Jewish voters.”

With Latimer’s strong record as County Executive, however, as well as a working relationship with virtually every municipal officeholder in Westchester, it is unlikely that Dolan would benefit meaningfully from this fight. With no plausible Republican candidate in sight, the district is all  but certain to elect a Democrat.

The more significant battle from a national perspective is in CD-17, where Mondaire Jones is hoping to do what Tom Suozzi did on Long Island. But Republican incumbent Mike Lawler is not Mazi Pilip, not to mention a George Santos. Lawler has managed for the most part to avoid being dragged into the MAGA maelstrom in Washington and has put together a decent constituent service operation at home—particularly in his strongholds on the west side of the Hudson. Still, he is an easy target for Jones’ attacks for his party-line votes, such as impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkis and otherwise participating in what Jones accurately calls “the least productive Congress in history.”

CD-17, demographically, should be a Democratic district. In 2020, when Jones was first elected, Biden won it by 20 points; in 2022, Lawler squeaked by one percentage point. Which way it goes in November will depend a lot on what the issues are. If immigration and the economy remain the leading issues among voters, that would favor Lawler. If Trump, Trumpism and control of Congress rise to the top, it would favor Mondaire.

Meanwhile, it is still not certain that the NYIRC map revealed this week will hold, It must first win approval in Albany. Even before the map was presented to the legislature, Senator James Skoufis, a Democrat from a district that straddles CD-17 and CD-18–and chair of the committee that oversees government operations, has said he would vote against it. On the other hand, Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Leader and thus the top Democrat in the House, is said to have kept a close eye on the committee’s work and is likely to wield his influence in Albany. That could be dispositve.

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