By the slimmest of margins -- just 89 people -- New York will slip from 27 to 26 congressional districts after next year’s elections, now that the 2020 census figures show the state’s population is not growing as quickly as most other states.
The Census Bureau said if 89 more residents had been counted, and other states’ population counts had remained the same, New York would not have lost the seat.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday called on state Attorney General Tish James to review the state's legal options to challenge the decision.
"Census takers in New York faced unprecedented challenges last year in their efforts to get New Yorkers counted -- from the pandemic's effect on the mail system to the Trump administration's xenophobic, flagrant, and illegal efforts to hurt blue states by discouraging noncitizens and people of color from being counted," Cuomo said in a statement. "So much of our state's recovery, revitalization, and resilience is dependent on having our voice heard in Washington, and we won't allow Trump and his cronies to use one of our greatest attributes -- our diversity -- as an impediment. "
The data released Monday showed New York had a total of 20,215,751 residents in 2020, up from 2010, but most other states grew more quickly.
The slower population gains in the upstate regions west of Albany will likely result in one fewer seat there. Democrats control the governor’s seat and hold a supermajority in both houses of the State Legislature. They appoint the members of the state’s redistricting commission, which draws the new lines.
Blair Horner with the New York Public Interest Research Group said it’s likely that upstate’s four Republican congressional seats could be consolidated into just three that favor GOP voters.
“Supermajorities in both houses is obviously a bad omen for Republican members of the House of Representatives,” Horner said.
A likely choice for redrawing is the district now held by Rep. Tom Reed, a Corning Republican. Reed, facing sexual harassment allegations, has announced he’s not seeking reelection, so the seat will be open in the November 2022 elections.
Horner said the Democratic supermajority control of both houses of the Legislature is also likely bad news for Republicans in the State Senate. The GOP is the minority party in both houses, but in the Senate, Republicans still hold several key seats where the population is growing the slowest.
“And those are areas where the Republicans have the strongholds that they have in New York,” Horner said.
The chair of the state’s Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, in a statement, blamed the population shift on what he says is the “failed leadership” of Cuomo, who's been in office for 10 years.
The redistricting commission won’t receive the more detailed block-by-block population data until late September. It will have to have the new districts completed before petitioning begins in February for the June 2022 primaries.