Gianaris: Republicans ‘decided to play chicken with the governor’ on redistricting

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Gianaris calls for an open hearing on redistricting. ()
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Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't talk about redistricting in his State of the State speech Thursday in Albany.

Democratic state senator Michael Gianaris, who has been perhaps the loudest and longest-standing advocate of redistricting reform in the legislature (where it is generally not popular), said Cuomo didn't have to.

"The governor has been very clear and has said many times, he has said it with great clarity, that he is insisting on a process that is independent and that LATFOR is not an independent process," Gianaris told me, referring to the Legislative Task Force on Redistrict. Cuomo has been "very aggressive and very clear in his support of an independent process."

Redistricting reform has been opposed most strongly by Republicans in the State Senate, where they enjoy a bare majority that would be greatly imperiled if the ability of legislative leaders to draw the lines of their members were taken away and given to an independent entity. (In lieu of any rules-change that would take place in time to effect the impending round of decennial redistricting, the Senate Republicans passed a non-started bill to amend the constitution and reform the process in time for the next round, in 2021-22.

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So, I asked Gianaris whether LATFOR was just going through the motions, when Cuomo is vowing to veto the resulting legislation and throw the whole thing to the courts anyway. 

Gianaris said: "For some reason the Senate Republicans have decided to play chicken with the governor on this issue. But he has been very clear, and we stand with him that the only acceptable outcome is a truly independent commission that results in a truly fair plan."