Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Hochul Tries Again

After the 2020 census, the Democrats in the New York State legislature drew an exceedingly aggressive map for the U.S. House. The state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, couldn't stomach it and threw it out. If the map had been accepted, the Democrats might have won 2-3 more seats in the House. Democrats were furious.

Then when a vacancy for chief judge on the Court of Appeals opened up, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) nominated Hector LaSalle, most likely because despite his French name, he is a Latino, and Hochul was trying to shore up her credentials with Latinos. However, LaSalle is a moderate and Democrats were hoping for a fire-breathing Democrat who would agree to a hugely gerrymandered map if they tried again. Democrats were furious again, this time with Hochul. They were so furious, the state Senate rejected LaSalle, a major hit for the governor.

Now Hochul is trying again. This time she proposed elevating Associate Judge Rowan Wilson to chief. If confirmed, he would be the first Black chief judge of the Court. She also nominated a former state solicitor general, Caitlin Halligan, to fill Wilson's seat. Hochul learned her lesson and made sure in advance that her nominees could pass this time. Indeed, Democrats cheered her new choices. They will be confirmed easily.

After the two are confirmed, the Democrats in the state legislature may draw a new House map and try again. New maps are required after each census, but states can change the map midterm if they so desire. Other states have done this in the past, so there is little question that it is legal. With a well-gerrymandered map and a compliant Court of Appeals, the Democrats could pick up maybe 2-3 more House seats in 2024, although things would have to move fast to meet the 2024 deadlines. Still, given the Republicans' margin in the House is only five seats, the incentive for New York Democrats to try again with a different, but still gerrymandered map, is enormous. They are unlikely to talk about it until both nominees have been confirmed, but once they are, keep an eye out. (V)

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