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Rep. Weiner Could Lose N.Y. District In Redistricting

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Congressman Anthony Weiner could become a victim of redistricting. Normally when a state redraws the boundaries for congressional districts, politicians do this for partisan ends. One party will shape the map to make it impossible for somebody in the other party to keep his job. But since Congressman Weiner admitted sending lewd photos of himself, some of his fellow Democrats could be the ones who obliterate his district. New York will lose two congressional seats next year. As NPR's Brian Naylor reports, one could be Weiner's.

BRIAN NAYLOR: The math is pretty simple. New York's population failed to grow as fast as the rest of the nation's did over the past ten years. So the state will go from its current 29 seats in the House of Representatives to 27.

It will be up to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and a panel of state lawmakers of both parties to determine just which of those seats go. It's widely expected that they will draw up new district boundaries that sacrifice one Republican seat upstate and one Democratic seat downstate.

David Wasserman closely follows redistricting as House editor of the Cook Political Report.

Mr. DAVID WASSERMAN (Cook Political Report): In the end this will be decided by a couple of people in a closed-off room in Albany. That's the reality of the situation and that's why a lot of members of Congress are hiring lobbyists to make sure that their districts aren't the ones that are carved up in this process.

NAYLOR: Before his recent texting-related troubles, Anthony Weiner's district was not expected to be the one carved up. Covering parts of Brooklyn and Queens, it was reliably Democratic, although Wasserman says with a large number of Orthodox Jews a bit more conservative than others in the city. But Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf says Weiner's new political vulnerability changes the equation.

Mr. HANK SHEINKOPF (Political consultant): Politics is still blood sport and the weakest link tends to be punished and in this case Anthony Weiner is the weakest link. It is probably easier to move the seat east and to apportion it to other incumbents in the area - that may be one solution. But we won't know until the lines are out.

NAYLOR: The lines of the new districts most likely won't be out until early next year. Before Weiner's texting behavior was revealed, it was thought that two adjacent congressional seats held by Democrats might be combined.

Democratic Assemblyman John McEneny is his party's leader on redistricting. Speaking from the Assembly chamber in Albany, McEneny says it's too soon to count anyone's district in or out just now.

State Assemblyman JOHN MCENENY (Democrat, New York): Even if you could wipe out one individual there's a lot of other people who would like to inherit that seat. So it's a political thing that's very much a variable and it's never as simple as people think.

NAYLOR: And analysts say it's also too early to count Weiner out. If he decides to stay in Congress despite the wishes of party leaders, it's not out of the question his constituents would reelect him, says David Wasserman.

Mr. WASSERMAN: In Washington just about everyone is calling for his head. In New York we see and hear polls that show him with some solid support back home and that's certainly encouraging in his mind. But, you know, we're going to have to wait and see over the next couple of weeks. I think it's very early to jump to conclusions over the future of his district before we know about the future of Congressman Weiner.

NAYLOR: Should Weiner bow to pressure and step down, there would be a special election to fill out the remainder of his term. The winner would presumably have little sway over the future of the 9th district.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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