11:25 am Mar. 12, 2012
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been inching away for a while now from his earlier blanket promise to veto any congressional and district lines drawn by the legislature, expressing a preference for a an agreement on acceptably partisan lines drawn by lawmakers over a court-controlled solution.
Today, more or less right on schedule, Cuomo said he saw "problems" with the congressional lines drawn up last week on a tight deadline by a federal judge after legislative leaders failed even to come up with a proposed version.
"We saw what happens when the courts draw the lines," Cuomo said in a radio interview just now. "The magistrates lines have created all sorts of problems."
Cuomo was referring to complaints by groups on behalf of female members of the New York delegation and by Black and Latino legislators, all of whom complain that the judge's lines don't sufficiently take their political needs into account.
In political terms, Cuomo is attempting to put himself on the side of reform (lamenting the poor process that's currently in place) while not actually confronting Albany's current power structure. By talking about the "problems" with the judge's lines, Cuomo is setting himself up to sign off, with great regret, and the legislature's district lines, arguing, as his father once did, that they're preferable to anything the courts could come up with.
Under the legislature's latest proposal, which would apply to the next redistricting process in 2021, redistricting plans would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority in each chamber if both chambers are controlled by the same party. That would in essence give Senate Republicans permanent veto power over any redistricting plan Senate Democrats would put forward if they win control of that chamber in the next decade.
The new legislation would also create a bipartisan redistricting (as opposed to "independent") redistricting commission.