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SU political science professor provides context to new congressional district maps

The districts that cover Central New York have shifted significantly to cover different territory.
The districts that cover Central New York have shifted significantly to cover different territory.

Central New York voters are probably still trying to figure out what congressional or senate district they now live in after the redrawn maps received final approval. Syracuse University political science professor Grant Reeher says we wouldn’t be in this situation if the independent redistricting commission had done its job and not punted to the legislature. And, if democrats in the legislature hadn’t drawn such gerrymandered districts, which sent the maps to court, and then a special master.

"Voters have to relearn the candidates, candidates have to sort themselves out again, they have to declare, they have to go about raising their money and launching their campaigns or continuing with their campaigns or shifting them. And it just creates a lot of need for new information and a lot of uncertainty. So there's a lot of scrambling going on, and that is a problem when your primaries are coming up in just a few short months."

August 23rd, to be precise, for the congressional and state senate seats. Voters in Onondaga County are now in the 22nd district, which includes Madison and Oneida Counties. Congressmember John Katko isn’t running again, so that means republicans and democrats are lining up for the open seat.

"That district is still arguably a, a purple-ish district, and that might have an influence and provide more of an opening if there is a moderate Republican that emerges has the nominee there. It all depends on what the voters do in the primaries. They tend to choose candidates that are more out on the extremes of either party."

Perhaps more notable, though, is who’s running in what’s become the 24th district to the west. Republican Claudia Tenney of New Hartford decided to seek the seat which extends from Oswego and Cayuga counties, west across the center of the state, all the way to Niagara County. Reeher says Tenney is probably a good fit.

"The district that she's running in is pretty clearly likely to elect a Republican, no matter who the candidates are, as long as they're acceptable candidates. And so I think for her, then it's going to be more about the primary...will she emerge as the victor. She fits that district ideologically much better than she would fit the other districts where she's geographically closer to."

Reeher says Tenney probably has an advantage with name recognition. At least five other republicans are seeking the seat, as well as two democrats.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at