In New York State, a court determined that the state’s congressional districts were gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. The special master appointed by the court drew new districts that dilutes the black vote and negatively affects Congressman Jamaal Bowman, one of the state’s most progressive members of Congress. The redistricting might lead to a primary between Bowman and Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is also Black. That would mean the loss of a Black member of Congress. The redistricting is weighted towards helping Republican candidates.

The New York Times writes that the new map is likely to create seats for Republicans.

The new lines even cast the future of several long-tenured, powerful Democratic incumbents in doubt, forcing several to potentially run against one another.

The most striking example came from New York City, where Mr. Cervas’s proposal pushed Representatives Jerrold Nadler, a stalwart Upper West Side liberal, and Carolyn Maloney of the Upper East Side into the same district, setting up a potentially explosive primary fight in the heart of Manhattan. Both lawmakers are in their 70s, have been in Congress for close to 30 years and lead powerful House committees.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a favorite to become the party’s next leader, was one of a handful of incumbent lawmakers who, under the new map, would no longer reside in the districts they represent. In one case, the new lines put Representative Brian Higgins mere steps outside his greater Buffalo district.

Taken together, the proposed changes have broad national implications, effectively handing Republicans the upper hand in a national fight for control of the House, and rattling the top echelons of House Democratic leadership…

In a blistering statement, Mr. Jeffries accused the court of ignoring the input of communities of color, diluting the power of Black voters and pitting Black incumbents against each other in “a tactic that would make Jim Crow blush.”

One of my friends, Jamaal Bowman, has been imperiled by the redistricting. His office issued this statement:

For Immediate Release
Date: May 17, 2022

STATEMENT: Rep. Jamaal Bowman Responds to Proposed District Map that Decreases the NY-16 Black Voter Population by 17%

YONKERS, NY – Yesterday a court filing unveiled the newly redrawn congressional districts in New York City. The new maps, which were drawn by court-appointed Special Master Jonathan Cervas but are not yet final, change the 16th Congressional District to remove much of the Bronx, decreasing the Black voter population by about 17%. In response, Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) released this statement:

“The whole point of redistricting is to create congressional districts that keep communities of interest together. Unfortunately, the map created by the special master splits NY-16’s historically low-income Bronx communities into three congressional districts and decreases the Black voter population by 17%. This occurred despite an outpouring of testimony urging redistricting officials to protect the Black vote by keeping the northeast Bronx with lower Westchester together. The proposal shows that Co-Op City is mapped into NY-14, Williamsbridge and Baychester into NY-15 and Edenwald kept in NY-16. The map data shows that this directly resulted in the Black voter population declining by 17%. Co-Op City, Williamsbrige, and Edenwald are strong communities of interest that must remain together as a unity and connected to lower Westchester. The Black voting power in NY-16 cannot be diluted in favor of more compact but less fair maps.

“Edenwald in the Bronx is home to the third-largest public housing community in New York State and one of the largest in the country. The Edenwald community is a vulnerable community that is separated in this proposed map from the other densely populated majority Black communities like Co-Op City, Williamsbridge, and Baychester, whose voting power helps protect these communities’ specific needs around housing, public safety, and poverty alleviation. Similarly, Co-Op city is the largest naturally occurring retirement community in the country predominantly populated by lower-income and Black seniors. By splitting these communities, the map further alienates them and perpetuates the opportunity for further historical neglect by the electoral system. These are communities who have been kept together in maps for decades for good reason and with good intention. Their voting power is directly tied to their lives and they deserve a fair chance at electing representatives that take their unique needs into full consideration.

“Now, I only have one message for NY-16: I will continue fighting for you, and I will fight to continue to represent you. I also hope that voters continue to have their voices heard in every elected official that represents them as I intend to continue and advocate for their needs and the needs of every person in NY-16.”   

About Jamaal Bowman
Congressman Jamaal Bowman was an educator and advocate for public schools for over 20 years and previously served as principal for the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA), a public middle school he founded in 2009 in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx. Rep. Bowman is a life-long New Yorker who lives in Yonkers with his wife and children.