ITHACA, N.Y.—Finally, New York state has a clear look at what its state senate and Congressional districts will be like after a chaotic redistricting process has roiled much of the state’s primaries. A draft of New York’s congressional maps was released on Monday by the redistricting special master John Cervas, appointed by Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister, and final maps are set to be released on May 20.
While the fog is fading for many of the state’s primary elections, Tompkins County, however, is placed into a draft district (New York’s 19th Congressional District) that largely resembles the one represented by soon-to-be outgoing Rep. Antonio Delgado, who Governor Kathy Hochul announced would be appointed as Lieutenant Governor and her running mate after Brian Benjamin resigned from the position following a federal indictment and his arrest on charges of campaign bribery.
With this confluence of events, a special election to finish out Delgado’s term in Congress will be set alongside the already jumbled primaries, which are set to take place on Aug 23.
The special election, it seems, will be scheduled to take place on Aug 23 as well. Although the date for the special election is not actually certain just yet.
While Benjamin resigned from the Lt. Governor position in April, and the state legislature passed a law to get him off the ballot, Delgado has not actually been appointed to the position yet, nor has he stepped down from his seat in Congress. The reason being that once he steps down from his seat in the House of Representatives, then that’s when the special election to fill his seat will be triggered.
The Albany Times-Union reported that in order for the special election to replace Delgado to be held on the same day as the state’s Congressional primaries, which were rescheduled for Aug. 23, Delgado would have to resign from the House of Representatives within the 10 day window between May 25 and June 4. If this were to happen, it’s thought that the coinciding elections would reduce confusion for Democrats at the polls and help keep the seat blue for the remainder of Delgado’s term — a strategic play for Democrats to build some political advantage in a competitive district.
Looking at voter data on the 2020 presidential election from the New York Times shows that President Joe Biden would have won 52.5% of the vote in the draft N19 congressional district, and former President Donald Trump 47.5% of the vote. Through this analytic lens, NY19 would be one of the most competitive Congressional districts in the state.
Overall, the special master’s districts created six competitive districts where there had been none.
Dave Wasserman, a Congressional election analyst and senior editor at The Cook Political Report, scored the draft districts as much more competitive, tweeting that they were “pretty bad news” for a party fearful that it won’t retain a majority in Congress through the midterms.
As opposed to the maps previously drawn by the state legislature, now deemed unconstitutional, which had 22 democratic and 4 Republican leaning Congressional districts, the special master’s draft congressional districts have 15 Democratic leaning, 5 Republican leaning, and 6 highly competitive seats according to Wasserman.
The special election to finish out the rest of Delgado’s term adds some extra pressure to an already competitive race. The special election would be to represent the current NY19 but since New York’s requirements for congressional candidates only stipulates that they be a resident of the state when they’re elected to office, any candidate who’s gunning to win NY19 as it was drawn by the special master can jump into the fray as soon as Delgado steps down, and the special election is triggered for the current NY19.
Ostensibly, a resident of the Village of Montauk at the tip of Long Island, could run to represent the City of Buffalo in the House of Representatives, or vice versa, as long as they can gather the appropriate signatures.
Delgado’s former Republican opponent, Marc Molinaro, has already stated his commitment to run in the new NY19 district.
Molinaro is from Red Hook, a village on the Hudson River which is now redrawn into the draft NY18, but Molinaro has already gathered signatures to certify a bid for the current NY19.
Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler’s campaign for congress has not yet committed to running in NY19.
Democrats that live in the draft NY19 district include Josh Riley and Vanessa Fajans-Turner in Ithaca, and Tioga County Democratic Chair Max Della Pia in Owego.
Della Pia, originally campaigning to represent NY23, though now placed in the draft NY19, said he intends to continue to run for office in NY23 as it was drawn by the special master.
Riley has already announced that he will be running to represent NY19 district. Fajans-Turner’s campaign has not yet committed to running in a specific district.
Correction (05/18/2022): This story previously stated that Fajans-Turner’s campaign had committed to running in NY19.
Correction (05/19/2022): This article originally indicated that Cervas is set to release his final maps on May 24. The date has been moved to May 20.