Manhattan’s new Congressional lines likely to benefit Maloney in Democratic primary

About a week after taking charge of the redistricting process, the New York Legislature released a set of Congressional maps that reflect the results of the 2020 Census on Sunday.

Republicans have pushed back on the proposed lines for boosting the Democrats’ chances to flip several seats in the 2022 elections at a time when the party’s congressional majority could be in jeopardy. In the firmly Democratic territory of Manhattan, however, the impact of the new maps will play out in the Democratic primary, and is likely to either benefit incumbent lawmakers or prove negligible.

The new maps were drawn by the Democratically controlled state Senate and Assembly after the long contentious process led by the Independent Redistricting Commission failed bipartisan consensus and could not deliver one set of maps. The proposal is expected to pass the state legislature and receive the governor’s signature in time for the June primary.

Though there are some significant shifts to the lines on Manhattan, in many ways, the changes in the outer borough may end up playing a bigger role in the coming primaries for Manhattan’s congressional delegation. The four Congressional seats that stretch over Manhattan all cross over into the outer boroughs. Two of the three candidates who weathered primary challenges last election cycle, fared significantly worse in Brooklyn and Queens than on their Manhattan turf.

In the most stark changes to Manhattan’s Congressional map, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s 11th District on Manhattan’s East Side, is expanding westward. The 15-term representative, who currently represents most of the East Side as well as Astoria and Long Island City in Queens and Greenpoint in Brooklyn, would recede deeper into Manhattan.

The projected new area of the 12th Congressional District, currently represented by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, which includes more of Manhattan and less of western Queens.Map courtesy of LATFOR

Under the new maps, portions of Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and the West Village, now under Congressman Jerry Nadler’s 10th District, would fall within Maloney’s. On the other hand, not much will change for her Upper East Side constituents, who will remain within her district.

For Maloney, who has narrowly fought off insurgent candidate Suraj Patel for two election cycles and is facing another primary challenge over the summer, the outer borough changes to the map are bound to be welcome news. The New York Times previously reported that Maloney had pushed Democrats in the state Legislature to cut down on the progressive parts of her district in Brooklyn and Queens, where Patel won more of the vote in 2020. 

The new maps do just that, lopping off large chunks of Sunnyside and eastern Long Island City and Astoria — a hub of the progressive energy over the past four years.

In its current iteration, the border between Nadler’s district and Maloney’s extends south from Central Park to west of 8th Avenue, to East 14th Street, where Nadler’s district cuts east to encompass the West Village and parts of Soho. In the new maps, the border between the two districts will move west a block to 9th Avenue along Hell’s Kitchen, and Nadler will lose most of Greenwich Village and Soho. 

The new 10th District, represented by Jerry Nadler, snakes its way from the West Side of Manhattan into parts of Brooklyn.Map courtesy of LATFOR

Residents in the Manhattan areas that are shifting from Nadler to Maloney showed resistance for insurgent candidates in 2020, when Nadler faced multiple progressive challengers, and came out on top in most of his Manhattan territory.

In its current form, Nadler’s district snakes down into Brooklyn through the Hudson River to spread over a large block of Borough Park. The district will now take a different, torturously skinny route through Red Hook and Downtown Brooklyn to Borough Park and extend farther south in Bensonhurst. 

Like Maloney, Nadler performed worse in the 2020 primary in the outer borough sections of his district than Manhattan, but the turnout was significantly lower per capita in Brooklyn. He wound up getting over 65 percent of the vote across the district — a comfortable margin of victory. The reduction of the Manhattan parts of his district might give a slight boost to an insurgent challenger, but it is still likely to be an uphill battle.

The changes to the other two Manhattan representatives are less notable. The northern Manhattan sections of Congressman Adriano Espaillat’s 13th District, which runs from Harlem up to Inwood, would not significantly change. 

The slim Manhattan section of Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez’s 11th District will slide northeast, but the majority of her district is in Brooklyn and Queens. Sections of Chinatown and Two Bridges that are represented by Velázquez at the moment will shift into Nadler’s district.

Accordingly Velázquez’s district will expand up absorbing sections of Lower East Side and Alphabet City around Tompkins Square Park that now fall under Maloney’s district.