2011 should have been a very boring year. As it turned out, with the resignation of Anthony Weiner and some state assembly members, it was not intolerable. (Disclosure: I was the campaign manager for Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz’s election to replace Nettie Mayersohn.)
But 2012 promises not to be boring. Next year is going to be akin to our Super Bowl. Every member of our state legislature and the House of Representatives will be up for election. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is running for her own term. President Obama will be asking voters to give him four more years.
Hopefully my boredom is assuaged by redistricting. Most people know it as “Gerrymandering”. Every ten years legislators meet in back rooms going through voter registrations picking the voters likely to reelect them.
As a result, most members of congress represent districts so overwhelmingly partisan they rarely lose. When the house switched hands in 2006, and again in 2010, it took many by surprise. The wrench in the machine was lapsed ethics charges and/or an increasingly unpopular president.
Representative Joseph Crowley, the County Democratic Chairman, will presumably have a big say as to who will be quashed in the battle to keep seats. Until a decision is made, all six members of the delegation will be lobbying the Governor and the Assembly Speaker to give them better – aka more democratic – districts. Usually, incumbents are pitted against each other. In 1992 – for example – my old boss, Representative Gary Ackerman, was about to be forced into a contest with then- Representative James H. Scheuer. Ultimately, Scheuer dropped out, faced with the prospect of losing to Ackerman in a primary.
The same fate may meet one of Queens’ congressional delegation next year. Who has to face who is yet to be determined. New York is poised to lose two seats. One of the seats, if history is any indicator, will be from upstate. As far as local democrats are concerned, the decision was made easier with the election of Representative Bob Turner, who replaced Weiner. The speculation is that Turner’s district will either be eliminated or combined with a neighboring district, possibly that of freshman Representative Michael Grimm, eliminating the prospect of Turner competing against a democrat.
The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment finished its public hearings on October 5th. Now it’s up to the legislature and the Governor to come to an agreement that will make sure everyone has proper representation. Hopefully they can do this with little partisanship.
I enjoy the prospect of not knowing who will win elections until all the votes are actually counted. It makes for a more fun election night and – most importantly – a more vibrant democracy, ensuring the kind of debates takes place are those that our founders envisioned more than two centuries ago.
This all starts with a fair redistricting process. I just hope I’m not bored next year.