Amid N.Y. redistricting shakeup, Turner announces Senate bid, and Jewish lawmakers face new maps


Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY) is running for the U.S. Senate. He announced today that he will pursue the Republican and Conservative Party nominations to face off against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Turner, of course, garnered national attention last year with his special-election upset of the Democratic nominee in Anthony Weiner’s heavily Jewish Brooklyn-Queens district. The upset by Turner (who is not Jewish) spurred considerable discussion of the state of the Jewish vote in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.

Turner’s Senate announcement comes against he backdrop of the state’s chaotic decennial redistricting process. His district seems likely to be eliminated, and as things are shaping up, it looks like Jewish members of New York’s congressional delegation could be facing a very different map (though it doesn’t appear that any of them are necessarily endangered).

New York has been way behind in getting its redistricting act together. The state legislature — already facing a governor angry over lawmakers’ redistricting shenanigans for the state Senate and Assembly maps — didn’t even propose new congressional maps.

So a federal court stepped in and appointed a judge to draw up a congressional map. The districts proposed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann are considerably more clean and compact than the state’s current gerrymandered districts. (Though the need to maintain black and Hispanic districts for compliance with the Voting Rights Act has kept a few funny-shaped districts in the mix.) The judge released slightly tweaked versions of her maps this morning, and they are awaiting a review by a panel of judges for Voting Rights Act compliance.

New York is losing a pair of districts as a result of the new Census numbers, and the judge’s plan calls for eliminating Turner’s district and dividing its constitutents up among other districts.

Under the judge’s map, a number of New York Jewish members of Congress may end up running in districts that look significantly different from those they currently represent.


Reps. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel would swap portions of their current districts. Rep. Nita Lowey’s (presumptive) district would lose the southern portions of Westchester County and take in Rockland County. Rep. Eliot Engel’s (presumptive) district — which, as now, has its southern terminus in Engel’s home base in the Riverdale section of the Bronx — would get southern Westchester County and lose Rockland County.

Rep. Gary Ackerman, who currently represents parts of Queens and Long Island’s Nassau County, has said that he will run in a new proposed district that would be solely in Queens and includes several heavily Jewish neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose current district includes a tremendously diverse mix of Jewish communities — stretching from the liberal Upper West Side of Manhattan to Chasidic Boro Park and Russian Brighton Beach in Brooklyn — looks like it will get slightly less serpentine and Jewishly variegated. Under the judge’s maps, it would lose Brighton Beach, though it would still manage to take in both Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Brooklyn’s Borough Park. (The funny-shaped district seems to be the result of having to divvy up what’s left over after neighboring districts were drawn to empower black and Hispanic voters.)

Brighton Beach and neighboring Sheepshead Bay, two Russian-Jewish Brooklyn strongholds (currently mostly represented by Nadler and Turner, respectively), would be folded into a pair of heavily black districts.

Recommended from JTA