WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
Redrawing of Congressional districts for the 1972 election may further the trend of a declining number of Jewish members in the House of Representatives. Of the 12 Jewish members of the current House, at least six can be considered to be “in trouble” with respect to retaining their seats. These findings were released in a report by the office of Rep. James H. Scheuer (D.,N.Y.). Of these six, five represent districts at least partially located in New York City. The sixth represents a district–soon to be non-existent–in Chicago, according to the report.
The number of seats in the House is set by law at 435. Likewise, the law says that redistricting must occur every 10 years to conform with census data. Because New York State has grown more slowly than California in the last 10 years, according to the 1970 census, New York will lose two seats in the next Congress.
The New York State legislature, controlled by Republicans, will vote on a new district map to be drawn by a bi-partisan committee of members of both Houses, the report noted. This committee, too, is Republican-controlled. Besides the supreme Court stipulation that the population must be equal in all districts, there are no restrictions that prevent the legislature from approving a map based largely on political considerations.
ABZUG, KOCH, PODELL, SCHEUER AMONG FIVE
The five Jewish Representatives from New York whose seats are considered to be to danger are all Democrats. They are, the report stated, Edward I. Koch and Bella Abzug of Manhattan, Bertram L. Podell of Brooklyn, James H. Scheuer of the Bronx, and Lester L, Wolff whose district includes parts of Nassau County and Queens. There are now five Congressmen from Manhattan, but there will probably be only four in the next Congress because of the shifting location of the city’s population. This means, the report stated, that incumbents will almost surely run against each other. This could also mean that two Jewish incumbents–Mrs. Abzug and Koch–may run against each other, insuring the loss of a Jewish seat.
Podell is considered in danger because the population of New York City is moving north and toward Long Island, so that the second lost seat may be from Brooklyn. Wolff, whose district straddles the line between Nassau County and Queens may be hurt if his new district includes more of Nassau County than of Queens, giving him a new group of voters.
Shifting population is the cause of Scheuer’s problems. In his case the population is moving from the Bronx to Westchester. Therefore, one of the four existing Bronx districts will probably be redrawn to include more of Westchester. The district could even be essentially in Westchester meaning that the Bronx will, in effect, lose one seat. If Scheuer’s district is, as he fears, carved up and divided between Representatives Mario Biaggi and Jonathan Bingham, the Bronx, despite its large Jewish population, will lose its sole Jewish representative, according to the report.
Abner Mikva’s Second Congressional District in Chicago was the victim of a Federal Court reapportionment of all the Illinois districts. In effect, his district does not exist on the new map. Mikva has moved from Chicago to Evanston, a traditionally Republican suburb, where he will run in the new Tenth District where there is no incumbent. Still, given the nature of the electorate there, retention of his seat will not be easy, the report noted.