(January 19, 2022) — Governor Kathy Hochul is pledging to intervene in New York State’s congressional redistricting and — with the help of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie — will draw a majority-Democrat district to include several Asian American neighborhoods in New York City, in order to achieve better representation for a community that often struggles to be heard.
“Everyone is concerned about the lack of representation of the Asian American community in elected office, and the Governor is horrified by the senseless violence in recent months,” a staffer for Hochul explains. “And don’t think that political redistricting is unrelated to civic visibility and social inclusion.”
The move comes in the aftermath of a series of horrific random attacks on Asian American women by severely mentally ill homeless men over the last several months. The attacks are terrorizing the community, which has struggled to be heard in the national political discourse.
Hochul has her eye on Rep. Jerry Nadler‘s district, which stretches from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to South Brooklyn, but avoids Midtown, Chinatown, and Sunset Park, where Asian American populations, when aggregated, would comprise a strong plurality of a congressional district’s electorate. Political considerations could also be at play. Although the Asian American community is one of New York City’s most populous constituencies, it lags behind other groups in terms of political participation and voting frequency.
Many Democrats have been encouraging Nadler, 74, who has served in Congress since 1992, to consider retirement in order to make room for other leaders to emerge from inside the party, which has sometimes struggled to cultivate a diverse leadership. Nadler is rumored to be receptive to the idea.
Hochul will also be ensuring that the Asian American community of Northwest Queens continues to be represented in a singular congressional district, to ensure that it is well represented. One map that the Independent Redistricting Commission had been considering would have cut the Flushing neighborhood, currently represented by Rep. Grace Meng, in half.