11:35 am Feb. 16, 2012
On Fred Dicker's radio show this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that "real reform" of the state's redistricting process would include a constitutional amendment that permanently removes the state legislature from the process.
Senate Republicans, who are currently holding on to a thin majority despite a massive disadvantage in voter registration, have dangled the possibility of a constitutional amendment as a possible compromise, in exchange for a degree of latitude in this year's process.
Cuomo called the lines released by the Senate last month "hyperpolitical and offensive," but said that they are not illegal.
"What people forget when they get all hyped up about it is the legislature has the legal authority to draw the lines," said Cuomo, who added that "ultimately the court will decide if they are legal."
Cuomo was reacting to a Quinnipiac poll out today that indicated very few people in New York know much of anything about the current status of the state's redistricting process. The poll would seem to be good news for Senate Republicans, most of whom have gone back on their 2010 campaign pledge to surrender this year's redistricting to a nonpartisan commission. The Quinnipiac poll found that only 29 percent of voters believed the state legislators who made such a pledge had broken their promise, with 68 percent saying they didn't know.
Those numbers were roughly consistent with nearly every question on redistricting; only 32 percent said they had heard or read about the fact that state legislators had drawn the legislative lines. Asked whether they approved or disapproved of the lines, 71 percent said they didn't know, with 25 percent disapproving, and just 4 percent expressing their approval.
The degree of disinterest underscores the lack of leverage advocates of redistricting reform over Senate Republicans, and how reliant they are on the governor if any change is to be forced on the legislature.
Cuomo said there were two possible outcomes: that the lines will stand, as altered by court, or "where there's progress of ending this once and for all."
"I would actually like to see real reform which is a constitutional amendment," he said.
Earlier, Cuomo pledged to veto the legislature's lines in less-qualified terms.