ALBANY — The final redistricting maps will potentially make Elise Stefanik and Paul Tonko constituents of each other and have set off an intra-party scramble to represent Schenectady in the state Senate.
The new boundaries for state legislators and U.S. representatives in New York were released around midnight Friday. They incorporate changes made after criticism of a draft released last that, among other things, severed the cities of Amsterdam and Saratoga Springs from the central Capital Region.
Saratoga Springs and the rest of Saratoga County will become part of New York’s 20th Congressional District, currently represented by Tonko, D-Amsterdam.
Amsterdam and the rest of Montgomery County will become part of NY-21, currently represented by Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.
Both say they’ll run for re-election in their current districts, where both will have significant name-recognition advantages in November. Neither plans to move their residence, so if both are re-elected, they’ll live in each other’s districts.
Stefanik alluded to this in a prepared statement but looked beyond the redistricting to the November election.
“While I’m deeply disappointed that I will no longer be serving as the congressional representative for Saratoga County, and parts of Jefferson County, I look forward to continuing to earn support from voters to represent the hardworking families, small businesses, farmers, veterans, and seniors in Montgomery, Rensselaer, Schoharie, and Otsego Counties and to continue delivering real results to Upstate New York.”
Tonko expressed regret that the cohesive five-city core of NY-20 would now be four cities.
“Residents of Saratoga, Schenectady and Albany counties — and the city of Troy — will benefit from a unified voice in Congress next year,” he said in a prepared statement. “I am thankful for that, but I am deeply disappointed that the [map] creates an incomplete Congressional district for the Capital Region by excluding the city of Amsterdam.”
The mayors of the five cities came together last week to urge changes to the draft map. Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim on Monday expressed relief that his city, at least, has been restored to NY-20.
“Really what it came down to was less politics than the map,” he said. “Saratoga County is clearly part of the Capital Region. To the extent we get another 10 years, knock on wood, to work with Paul Tonko that’s all the better.”
New York’s 44th Senate District, meanwhile, has been reconfigured to consist of Saratoga County plus the city of Schenectady and town of Niskayuna in Schenectady County. Incumbent Senators Daphne Jordan of Halfmoon and James Tedisco of Glenville both want to represent it.
Neither is an incumbent in the 44th — Jordan now represents the 43rd and Tedisco the 49th.
Jordan lives in the new district and has represented the majority of Saratoga County residents since her election in 2018. Tedisco has represented other parts of Saratoga County and Schenectady since 1983, first in the Assembly, recently in the Senate.
Both are apparently scrambling for party support to run in the 44th, making announcements each time they land an endorsement.
The Schenectady County Republican and Conservative parties are behind Tedisco, as are the Milton Republicans. He was seeking support from Clifton Park Republicans on Monday night.
But Jordan has been racking up some big names, including state Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, former U.S. Rep. John Faso, the state Conservative Party, and her predecessor as senator, Kathy Marchione, who called out Tedisco for potentially forcing a Republican primary by pursuing the 44th.
Ortt tweeted that he wants Tedisco to run in the new 46th Senate District, where he lives, which as redrawn includes all of Montgomery County and most of Albany and Schenectady counties.
Sen. Neil Breslin, a Democrat whose community history in Albany is every bit as deep in Albany as Tedisco’s is in Schenectady, will live in the new 46th and is running for re-election to an office he’s held since 1996.
An election between the two would be a change of pace for both veteran legislators, who’ve often faced opponents with nowhere near the same level of name recognition or experience.
Tedisco said he’s focused entirely on the 44th and gave no indication whether he might run in the 46th if he doesn’t gain secure party support over Jordan.
“Over and over again in my time as a representative, I’ve seen the ‘big bosses,’ Albany insiders and so-called powers in our state government try to flex their muscle and overcome or control the will of the people and tell them who should be their elected officials,” Tedisco said in a prepared statement.
“Now they’re trying to use their power to strongarm the people of Saratoga County and tell them who is the best for and who to elect as state Senator for the new 44th Senate District!”
He also appealed to his fellow Republicans’ competitive and practical sides, noting that the new district has 4,000 more enrolled Democrats than Republicans, and since he has soundly defeated the two likely November opponents — Democrats Thearse McCalmon of Schenectady and Michelle Ostrelich of Niskayuna — in previous general elections he’s the best shot at keeping the district in GOP hands.
McCalmon and Ostrelich are headed for a primary.
Both expect to win.
“The Democratic primary is Aug. 23rd and the general election is Nov. 8th — I look forward to winning both and bringing the concerns of my constituents to the State Senate,” Ostrelich said in a prepared statement.
McCalmon said Monday she isn’t worried about the late-season change in the district map, but the timing of the primary is worrisome — she’ll have little time to pivot from Democratic opponent to Republican opponent.
“I know Saratoga, I know Schenectady, and that’s what it comes down to,” she said. “I think it’s a great district —
I have no concerns about winning a primary.”
District maps are redrawn every 10 years with the release of new Census data.
A bipartisan commission created to draw fair, non-gerrymandered maps this cycle but failed in its mission, so the Democratic-controlled state Legislature created districts that put Republicans at a grave disadvantage.
Some accounts placed the Democratic advantage as high as 22 of 26 congressional districts, which would have helped maintain party control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The congressional and Senate maps were challenged. Courts rejected the maps and appointed a special master to draw new replacements, on very short notice.
A challenge has also been mounted to the Democrat-drawn Assembly maps.
Here’s what the Capital Region and nearby areas look like for the next 10 years:
- 19th Congressional: Columbia and Greene counties and a swath going west to Ithaca.
- 20th Congressional: All of Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga counties, plus the cities of Troy and Rensselaer and a tiny surrounding sliver of Rensselaer County.
- 21st Congressional: All of Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Schoharie, Warren and Washington counties; almost all of Rensselaer County; part of Otsego County; and most of the rest of New York going north to Canada.
- 41st Senate: Columbia and Greene counties, and parts of Ulster and Duchess counties.
- 43rd Senate: Colonie, Rensselaer County and southern Washington County.
- 44th Senate: All of Saratoga County, Niskayuna and Schenectady.
- 45th Senate: All of Warren County, northern Washington county and north to Canada.
- 46th Senate: All of Montgomery County and most of Albany and Schenectady counties.
- 49th Senate: Fulton, Herkimer and Hamilton counties plus all or part of four other counties stretching to Lake Ontario and Canada.
- 51st Senate: All of Otsego and Schoharie counties and all or part of five other counties going south to Pennsylvania.
Among Senate incumbents in the area, Breslin, Jordan and Tedisco have indicated they’re seeking re-election.
State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, whose district currently reaches into the heart of the Capital Region, is running in the 41st, which is pushed south and now clearly a Hudson Valley-oriented district.
State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, whose current district includes Schoharie County, is running for re-election in the 51st.
State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, is running for re-election in the 45th.
And Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, is seeking election to the 49th.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism