PLATTSBURGH — New York State is set to lose a seat in the House of Representatives, but Dr. Harvey Schantz does not anticipate this will bring much change to the North Country, currently known as the 21st Congressional District.
"The northern tier district as we know it has survived from Watertown to Plattsburgh since the election of 1968 and so the district and incumbent Elise Stefanik should be relatively unscathed by the redistricting process," the SUNY Plattsburgh political science professor told The Press-Republican.
STEFANIK BLAMES CUOMO
On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from the 2020 Census showing that, while the state's population grew by more than 4% since 2010, other parts of the country saw larger gains, the Associated Press reported.
Officials said that, had just 89 more people been counted in New York, and other states' numbers held firm, all 27 current congressional seats would have remained.
In a prepared statement, Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) blamed the loss on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, contending the state is moving in the wrong direction under his "abysmal failed leadership."
"Furthermore, the fact that Gov. Cuomo slow-walked the census resources in the state is an abomination as we fell 89 individuals short of not losing a congressional seat."
She claimed New Yorkers are fleeing the state "due to his draconian leadership, high taxes, exorbitant cost of living and rampant crime."
"I will continue to be a strong voice for my constituents in the North Country and New York who value freedom and feel forgotten by Cuomo and his Far-Left cesspool in Albany."
PROCESS IN FLUX
Schantz said the process of drawing up congressional districts in New York State is currently in flux.
He pointed to how the legislature and governor have traditionally undertaken the task, but in 2012, the job fell to U.S. Magistrate Judge Roxanne Mann, appointed by federal judges, and a consultant as the two branches were not able to agree on a plan and time was running out.
In November 2014, voters approved an independent redistricting commission, so now the state is in somewhat unchartered territory, Schantz said.
The legislature's four party leaders each appointed two commissioners, who then chose two non-major party enrollees for a total of 10 members. Their plan is due to the legislature no later than Jan. 15, 2022.
"The commission's handiwork, however, is subject to approval and change by the state legislature and governor, so in this important sense the work of the commission is advisory," Schantz said.
"Of course, Democrats control the state Assembly, Senate and governorship, and they will look out for their partisan interests."
The minimum number of residents in a congressional district in New York State is set to increase to 776,971, Schantz said.
"Two districts with Republican incumbents not seeking reelection to the House present opportunities for elimination," he added.
Referencing earlier projections that showed upstate districts tended to have smaller populations than those in New York City, Schantz said it was reasonable to assume the district set to be eliminated will be in the upstate region.
Five of New York State's eight Republican congressional districts are located upstate and are contiguous: districts 21 to 24, and district 27.
"Moreover, Republican Congressman Tom Reed from the 23rd Congressional District in the Southern Tier will not be running in 2022, making his district a prime target for elimination," Schantz said.
"The four predominantly Long Island districts have relatively small populations, as well, and have two Republican legislators in adjoining districts, one of whom, Lee Zeldin, has announced for Governor, thereby making his First Congressional District an alternate target for elimination."
Regardless of how the elimination plays out, the North Country will have to expand in order to reach the minimum population, which means adding territory to the south, Schantz said.
The logical way to do that, he posited, is to add population from Oswego County.
"Up until the 2012 redistricting, Oswego County was in the North Country district," Schantz continued, "and Oswego County is tied to Watertown which has been a foundation of the district since it was created in 1968.
"Oneida County also has an earlier history of being partially in the Northern Tier district, but this is the home county of Republican Representative Claudia Tenney."
Stefanik has never represented Oswego County, or the other areas that might be added to the district, but the addition of Oneida County would be a blow to Tenney, Schantz said.
"She would face an uphill battle in the Republican primary with Stefanik."
Email Cara Chapman: