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Tipsheet

New York's Gerrymandering Is Particularly Absurd, So Why Is Eric Holder Remaining Silent?

AP Photo/Bill Haber

New York is really making news this week when it comes to partisan gerrymandering efforts, as the state could eliminate four Republican seats and give Democrats an edge in 22 out of 26 seats. Ballotpedia referred to the story as one of their top three for Wednesday morning, and FiveThirtyEight on Monday referred to it as "heavily biased," questioning if it would pass. And yet, Eric Holder, who has become a major voice in calling out Republicans on their redistricting efforts, appears to be silent.

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The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) has been calling out Holder, who presently serves as the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, for his failure to consistently call out gerrymandering. Last month, the RSLC, as I covered, released an ad highlighting such "Hypocrisy." 

"New York is another example of the Democrats' redistricting hypocrisy, with Eric Holder once again turning a blind eye to a gerrymandered map that favors Democrats," said RSLC National Press Secretary Stephanie Rivera, weighing in on the map and Holder's silence. "Since Democrats are positioned to lose big this November as a result of their toxic agenda, Eric Holder and his allies have to resort to desperate partisan power grabs to win elections."

The particularly absurd examples of gerrymandered districts occur in New York City.

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The Wall Street Journal addressed Rep. Jerry Nadler's district in an editorial on Tuesday, pointing out one's "first instinct might be to grab the cartographer and do a field sobriety test."

They too addressed Holder:

New York’s jerrymander is another reminder that drawing favorable lines is a bipartisan strategy. It happens every decade, but this time Democrats have been trying to convince the public that it’s some Trumpian threat to the republic. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, urges officials to sign a “Fair Districts Pledge” and “commit to restoring fairness to our democracy.” 

What a pose. In reality Democrats and Republicans want the same thing. They want to win. New York’s maps were supposed to be drawn by an independent commission, a good-government reform that voters approved in 2014, with hopes of taking politics out of an inherently political process. But the commission deadlocked and offered two competing plans. 

...

The rough barbell shape of Mr. Nadler’s district, connecting Jewish areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, isn’t new. But the state Legislature’s map contorts it like a snake. Why? So that the GOP 11th District, anchored in Staten Island, can sweep north to include liberal Park Slope, Brooklyn. In 2020 Mr. Trump won the 11th District by 11 points, while Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis beat an incumbent, Democrat Max Rose, 53% to 47%. Mr. Rose is running in 2022 to retake his old seat, and the new progressive Park Slope voters could be enough to flip that margin. 

The Albany plan makes similar moves upstate and on Long Island to erode Republican chances and shore up the Democratic advantage. Don’t expect to hear loud complaints from Mr. Holder and company, or for that matter from all the good-government poseurs in the media.

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There are effects elsewhere in the state, though. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican who represents the 22nd district, which is located more upstate, has already decided to run for a neighboring district instead. 

Even if Holder is remaining silent on New York, it's not merely traditionally Republican outlets addressing such gerrymandering.

Bobby Cuza of NY 1 appeared on the network, pointing out that "there's no better example than these maps that came out yesterday," referring to a conversation about "gerrymandering" and "advantage" as what makes people interested in redistricting. 

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The new congressional map may also violate the New York State constitution, clearly making it beyond partisan politics. 

The state constitution states that districts must "consist of contiguous territory," "be as compact in form as practicable" and not be drawn to disfavor political parties," as highlighted in an opinion piece for The Washington Post by Henry Olsen. His headline warned that "New York's Democratic gerrymander is egregious. The courts must intervene." 

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