N.Y. - Republicans in state Senate propose new Orthodox Jewish and Asian majority districts

The state Senate GOP wants to bring to Queens the chamber’s first Asian-majority district to go along with an Orthodox Jewish-majority district in Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned.

The proposed changes — including the creation of a new Senate district in the Albany area — will be part of the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative district lines, which both houses of the Legislature will unveil Wednesday.

With the Asian population in Queens having grown by more than 120,000 over the past decade, the new Senate lines would create a district that would be 52% Asian, a source briefed on the plan said. The district would be based in Flushing.

Since an incumbent lawmaker does not live in the proposed district, the community can “elect a candidate of their choosing,” the source said.

Presently there are no Asian members in the Senate and just one in the Assembly.

On the Assembly side, the new lines are expected to keep Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s Queens district largely intact while creating an Asian-majority district in Queens that will cut into the districts currently represented by Rory Lancman and David Weprin, a second source said.

The Senate GOP will propose an Orthodox Jewish-majority district in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, the first source said.

The new district would consolidate the Orthodox Jewish community into one district, rather than spread the population out over five as is now the case, the source said.

“Legally, we’re keeping communities of interests together, which is what we’re required to do,” the source briefed on the plan said.

The GOP will also propose to create a 63rd Senate seat that would cut across five upstate counties and, for the first time, divide the Democrat-dominated Albany region. The GOP says that would do away with the current possibility of a 31-to-31 logjam.

Democrats in the Senate said they have expected that the GOP majority would come up with an “abusively partisan” redistricting plan so they can keep their one-seat edge.

“Any claims of fairness will simply be a smokescreen,” said Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).

Gov. Cuomo has vowed to veto any lines not drawn by a nonpartisan process — but he said that before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week that the responsibility for redistricting falls mainly on state elected officials, not the court system.

Cuomo has been negotiating with the Legislature to come up with a compromise.


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