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Tom Reed's congressional district appears vulnerable to redistricting

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Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) says he will not run for re-election.

Following the 2020 census, New York state will lose one congressional seat -- and it is expected to happen in Upstate New York, where population growth has slowed. The district of Southern Tier Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning), who is not seeking re-election, appears especially vulnerable.

An independent commission, chosen by the Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, will receive more detailed census data later this year, before they redraw the district lines. Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and a professor of political science at Syracuse University, said members of Congress will lobby the process to protect their own interests. That means the district of someone like Reed, who’s not running again, is a more likely target.

“There won’t be someone there arguing against or for a redistricting line in the same way that you would have if someone was actually an incumbent and running again,” Reeher said.

The last time the state went through a redistricting process, the two congressional districts that were eliminated had representatives that weren’t running for reelection. Reeher said the districts next to the one that gets eliminated will also be affected, and will have incumbents watching the process closely, trying to influence it. Reed’s district stretches from western New York, across the Southern Tier to the city of Ithaca, next to Mohawk Valley Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) district. She only won her most recent election by 109 votes.

“Any change in that district could be really important,” Reeher said.  

The state Legislature or the governor could also reject the plans of the redistricting commission, giving Democrats the advantage to decide how district lines are drawn.

Tom Magnarelli is a freelance reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area.
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