Nozzolio: GOP’s Redistricting Decisions Based On Population, Not Politics (UPDATED)

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The Senate Republicans’ proposed congressional map puts Democratic Reps. Gary Ackerman and Carolyn McCarthy in the same district covering parts of Long Island and Queens, but doesn’t pit any other running incumbents against one another, Sen. Michael Nozzolio confirmed today.

The Senate GOP’s plan would also carve up retiring Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s district, according to Nozzolio, who co-chairs the Legislature’s redistricting task force. Hinchey, a Democrat, represents a district that currently stretches from Ithaca to Poughkeepsie, and has announced his retirement at the end of his term.

Nozzolio, a Republican from Fayette, Seneca County, said the GOP’s analysis of 2010 census figures calls for the elimination of one seat between Long Island and Queens, making the decision to cut Ackerman’s seat a sensible one. (Ackerman represents the 5th Congressional District, which includes portions of Queens and Nassau County.)

“We looked at the population of this state and analyzed the demographics,” Nozzolio said. “By the time you get from the tip of Long Island into Queens, you’re shy a congressional district in terms of population.”

But Assembly Democrats have cried foul over the Senate GOP’s attempts to eliminate two Democrat-held seats, rather than one Democrat and one Republican. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the Republicans’ insistence on two Democratic districts has been a “stumbling block” in negotiating a joint congressional plan.

Nozzolio said all of his conference’s decisions were made on population, not politics.

“We looked at the demographics and we had to establish the loss of a district before you got to the end of Queens, and that is what we based our decision on,” Nozzolio said.

The Senate’s plan would keep 44 counties whole, according to Nozzolio. He said one district would be drawn entirely within Monroe County.

Meanwhile, both Assembly Democrats and Senate Democrats are expected to file their full proposals in federal court at some point today. Neither conference has released their full maps, but both houses say they’ll carve up Hinchey’s district.

UPDATE: Ackerman’s office just supplied a statement in which the congressman calls both the Senate GOP’s and Assembly Democrats’ proposals “attractive.”

Here’s Ackerman’s statement, in full:

“It appears the legislative parties have created two plans: One with an attractive and enticing Long Island district including constituencies I have had the great pleasure of representing for two decades, the other with an attractive and comfortable district in Queens containing my political base and longtime roots, most of which I have represented during my 34 years in public office.

I commend the legislators for their work.”

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    HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller