Albany released Brooklyn’s new congressional district lines late yesterday, and the recommendations filed by the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the GOP-run state Senate are as different as night and day — especially in southern Brooklyn, which the Senate wants to split between two Republican congressmen.
Both state houses had until midnight to submit their recommendations to a federal judge tasked with creating new congressional district lines, but the two maps offered for consideration couldn’t be more different. The dissenting suggestions include:
•The GOP-controlled Senate wants to extend Republican Rep. Michael Grimm’s district from Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst to Borough Park and Gravesend. They also want to extend Republican Rep. Bob Turner’s district into Midwood and Coney Island, giving both Republican legislators total control of southern Brooklyn.
• The Assembly, in turn, wants to get rid of the Brooklyn portion of Turner’s district entirely. Grimm’s district won’t grow any further than Bensonhurst, according to the Assembly’s recommendations.
• The Assembly wants to stretch Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D–Coney Island) district into Manhattan Beach. It also wants to extend Democratic Rep. Ed Towns’s district into Sheepshead Bay. The Senate wants to either shrink these two districts or leave them unchanged.
With congressional primaries being moved up to June 26, and with the Assembly and the state Senate failing to work out a compromise, a coalition of voters and political watchdog groups sued Albany in federal court, claiming that the partisan politics being played at the state capitol was violating voters’ civil rights.
Brooklyn federal Judge Dora Irizarry sided with the voters, ordering that a “special master” determine just how the lines are drawn by March 12.
A three-judge panel will take those recommendations and hammer out new congressional lines by March 20.
Assembly, state Senate and congressional lines are redrawn every 10 years so the districts jive with population shifts outlined in the census. But critics say politicians use the redistricting process to make sure that the political party currently in power stays in power.
This is not the first time the state Senate and the Assembly quibbled over district lines. In January, the two legislative bodies put out completely different state district maps. In the Senate map, Republican leaders erased disgraced state Sen. Carl Kruger’s district — even though Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) and Republican attorney David Storobin are embroiled in a heated campaign for the seat.
Check back with BrooklynDaily.com to see the fallout from these congressional lines and how they will affect Brooklyn voters.
Reach Deputy Editor Thomas Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2525.