Two legal challenges pending in state court could upend the final legislative maps left standing in the redistricting process: the New York state Assembly.
The challenges are being brought for different reasons: One by a Republican in New York City, another by a Greene County businessman and registered Democrat. The only twist? It's a legal challenge the Assembly Republicans, long in the minority since the advent of the post-Watergate era, don't really want.
Last month, New York's top court ruled the U.S. House of Representatives and state Senate districts drawn by lawmakers were unconstitutional. And now, two legal challenges are trying to get a third set of district lines for the state Assembly tossed.
"Certainly, it's going to set the course for the next 10 years of New York state politics, but it definitely presents itself as an historic opportunity to have the Assembly lines drawn not by Assembly Democrats, but by an independent outside body," said Gavin Wax, who filed the complaint in state Supreme Court.
The state Assembly's maps were not included in the initial and successful legal challenge that led to the rejection of the congressional and state Senate districts.
If successful, the consequence would be a redrawing of the state Assembly district lines approved by state lawmakers earlier this year after an independent commission created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment failed to reach an agreement on the boundaries.
And that would likely mean the state Assembly primaries, as well as down-ballot races affected by the shift in Assembly lines like judgships, would also move from June 28 to Aug. 23. A state Supreme Court judge last month ordered the congressional and state Senate primaries be moved to Aug. 23 as a court-appointed special master draws new districts.
New York voters currently face the potentially costly and confusing possibility of two primares spread out over two months unless a consolidation occurs. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who faces a three-candidate gubernatorial primary on June 28, does not want to move the statewide races to August.
Wax, a leader in the New York Young Republicans, argues lawmakers did not follow proper procedure in drawing the new district boundaries. The challenge comes as early voting for the June primary in the state Assembly is only weeks away.
"It's a public interest argument and I think it's a constitutional argument," Wax said. "If it is a constitutional issue, which we believe it is, the timeliness of it is irrelevant."
The other challenge is coming from Gary Greenberg, who was a prominent advocate for the passage of the Child Victims Act, a measure that made it easier for victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits.
"People deserve fair districts, competitive districts," Greenberg said. "The Democrats, they had their opportunity and they overplayed their hand."
The challenge to the lines in the Democratic-dominated Assembly is unusual in part because Assembly Republicans themselves don't want it. Republicans in the chamber worked with Democrats on the usually partisan redistricting process, said Assemblyman Andy Goodell.
"We were very fortunate this year that we had a considerable amount of bipartisan consideration and communication when it came to developing the Assembly lines," he said.
A court rejection of the maps will lead to complications for re-starting the costly and time-consuming petitioning process.
"If the maps are thrown out, obviously that throws into confusion and question," he said. "All of the petitions have already been circulated."