What will lost congressional seat mean for New York?
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The initial results from the 2020 census are in and with populations shifting, seven states are losing seats in Congress. New York is one of them. Our Kelly O’Brien reports on what losing that seat means for the state.
The census keeps count of the population across the country and the nation’s 435 congressional seats are divvied up to states based on those numbers.
SUNY Plattsburgh Political Scientist Harvey Schantz says he wasn’t surprised to see the seat loss because New York has lost at least one seat the last eight censuses.
Schantz shared his thoughts on how the pandemic impacted the numbers and what this means for the state.
“New York state is still the fourth largest state in representation in the House of Representatives,” he said.
With the loss of this seat from the latest census, New York still will have 26 congressional seats. More congressional seats mean more policymakers to fight to bring federal funding back to the state.
“We don’t like to see that. Whenever we lose representation, it’s not good,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake.
Jones says it’s frustrating to see the state lose a seat after falling short by just 89 people, especially because of the work put in to get people to participate and be counted.
“We did a heck of a push, we really did,” Jones said.
Schantz says, in his opinion, the pandemic played a major role in the numbers and New York was the state hardest hit by the virus.
“It’s inconceivable to me that with all the people who were dying and in the hospital or at home sick, that we would not have come up with 90 more people,” Schantz said.
So what does this mean for the state? One congressional district has to go and the congressional district lines need to be redrawn.
“In the U.S. House, every district in a state has to have equal population,” Schantz explained.
That’s about 777,000 people per district.
With upstate New York so spread out, the redraw will likely happen there. Upstate Congressman Tom Reed, a Republican, has already announced he plans to retire, so Schantz says state legislators could simply decide to break up that district and divide it to the adjacent ones.
“All districts have to be compact and contiguous,” Schantz said. “You can’t divide districts up; they have to be real pieces of territory.”
As for Jones, he says it’s still too early to tell what the new districts will look like. He says the data needed for redrawing likely won’t be out until August.
“Draw those lines in a fair and clear way, a transparent way that represents the people of our state and those areas in the best way possible,” he said.
Jones said this redistricting could impact the state’s Assembly and Senate districts because the new districts need to meet those population requirements.
I reached out to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for her thoughts and to find out whether she has any concerns about the fate of her district. She was highly critical of how the census was conducted in the state and points to the governor’s leadership as a part of the reason people left.
In a statement, Stefanik, R-New York, said: “The loss of yet another Congressional seat proves that New York State is moving in the wrong direction under the abysmal failed leadership of Governor Cuomo. Furthermore, the fact that Governor Cuomo’s slow walked the census resources in the state is an abomination as we fell 89 individuals short of not losing a congressional seat. Sadly, New Yorkers continue to flee our 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.”
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