AP FACT CHECK: Cuomo Let Republicans Draw District Lines
In her Democratic primary bid for governor of New York, liberal activist and actress Cynthia Nixon has painted Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a false progressive, blaming him for Republican control of the state Senate that she says has kept progressive legislation from moving forward.
Nixon is part of a new wave of liberals running in resistance to President Donald Trump, and campaigning against Democrats they deem are holding the party back. She will face off against Cuomo in the Sept. 13 primary.
During their first and only debate in late August, Nixon said Cuomo failed to fulfill a campaign promise in 2010 to veto partisan legislative redistricting plans.
Here's a look at their exchange during their debate:
NIXON: "Didn't you allow the Republicans to gerrymander their own districts?"
CUOMO: "No, no."
NIXON: "Yes, you did in 2011."
THE FACTS: Nixon is technically correct, but there's more to the story.
Cuomo did say while campaigning in 2010 that he would veto "hyper-partisan" redistricting lines drawn by Senate and Assembly majorities who have historically used the process to keep incumbents in power. However, in 2012, he approved redistricting lines that benefited both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled Assembly, as part of a legislative package. That package also included an amendment to create an independent panel to oversee redistricting with the aim of ending partisan gerrymandering.
"Cuomo promised to veto any partisan redistricting plan," said Doug Muzzio, professor of political science at Baruch College in New York. "Did he do it when he had the opportunity? No. So essentially Nixon is correct."
According to a campaign spokeswoman, Cuomo OK'd the legislation in hopes of getting long-term redistricting reform through.
"New York talked about long-term redistricting reform for decades and the governor got it done not only through statute, but through a constitutional amendment approved by the voters," Abbey Collins, Cuomo campaign spokeswoman, said in an email to The Associated Press.
Michael Li, senior counsel who leads the redistricting team at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, also noted that Democrats in the Assembly could have blocked the measure benefiting Republicans.
"The reality is we don't know a whole lot about how they came up with the map. The process used, up until now, has not been a very transparent process," Li said. "Democrats should have quite a few more seats than they do."
In 2014, voters approved the amendment in the legislative package and established a 10-member independent commission to oversee redistricting. A majority of the members will be appointed by the legislature.
The first redistricting cycle under the amendment will be in 2020, and will occur every 10 years in accordance with census data.
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