STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) – Just as New York’s never-ending redistricting process finally came to an end, a Republican-led group of voters slammed their hand on the door and filed a lawsuit. Time is now ticking for congressional candidates who need to know what district they are running for.
The lawsuit claims the new congressional map is “undeniably politically gerrymandered” after four republican seats have been knocked out by this map. George Winner, the attorney representing the petitioners, and partner in the Elmira law firm of Keyser, Maloney, Winner LLP, says they should be redrawn entirely.
“We believe that this is blatantly partisan gerrymandering on its face… and the courts should through these maps out,” said Winner.
14 residents filed the lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court in Steuben County, just hours after Governor Hochul signed the new district lines into law. The redistricting process is one that state officials have been working on since August. If the courts do decide to intervene, the maps will have to be redrawn in less than a month.
“I would hope that the courts can move quickly,” said Joe Sempolinski, Steuben County Republican Chairman, and congressional candidate.
In the timeline of the political calendar, the petitioning process, which is how candidates get on the ballot, is set to being on March 1st. Candidates should know what district they are running for, usually well before this date.
Sempolinski announced his candidacy in July of 2021 and has been working on his campaign for over six months. Now, with just one month until the petition process, he has no idea if he is even running or not, waiting for final district lines
“If these maps hold up, I’m not planning on running into primary,” he asserted. “If the courts intervene, there’s a good chance I’ll be running in a Finger Lakes district or Southern Tier district or some configuration.” But right now, Sempolinski still has no idea.
But the redistricting process has been blaring in the background of congressional campaigns for months. Dora Leland, Chemung County Democratic Committee Chair, says this lawsuit only puts on more pressure.
“The redistricting plan was later than everyone expected, the candidates are already, under a ridiculous timeframe… and there’s a lot of pressure to get the petitioning done,” Leland explained. “We just don’t have the time for this.”
The new congressional map drawn by the legislature, and signed into law on Thursday by Governor Hochul, upends four Republican seats and maximizes the prospects for Democrats in 22 of the 26 new districts.
“They have packed this district to make it overwhelmingly Republican, at the expense of surrounding districts,” said Winner.
But, the redistricting cycle ensued exactly how it was supposed to.
“They’re asking the court to reject 50 years of precedent and tradition…The process was followed as dictated. and this is the end result,” said Leland.