ITHACA, N.Y. — With the release of the special master’s draft maps for New York’s State Senate and Congressional districts, it appears that little has changed for the State Senate race that was unfolding in the now deemed unconstitutional State Senate District 53. 

John Cervas, the special master, was appointed by Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister with the responsibility and power to redraw New York’s State Senate and Congressional districts after they were ruled unconstitutional by the New York State Court of Appeals. Those unconstitutional maps were drawn by the Democrat-controlled State Legislature after the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission failed to recommend a single set of maps to the legislature. 

Cervas is set to release his final maps on May 20. Under this current draft, expected to largely resemble the final version, Tompkins County now belongs to the 52nd State Senate district.

On the left, the now deemed unconstitutional 53rd State Senate District. On the right, the special master’s draft of the 52nd State Senate District. Credit: CUNY Mapping Service at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center

The major geographic change in the draft district is the inclusion of the City of Cortland. The area essentially replaced a part of Tioga County, including the City of Owego, which was in the struck down 53rd District. A portion of right-leaning eastern Broome County was removed from the 52nd District as well.

The core of the old district remains in the draft 52nd District, including the whole of Tompkins County and the City of Binghamton and the rest of Broome County’s Tri-City area.  

With this, the 52nd district will bring three Binghamton, Cortland, and Ithaca — three cities strongly defined by their institutions of higher education — under the same representative.

The new 52nd District leans a little further to the left than the 53rd District did before. Voting data from The New York Times, and presented by the CUNY Mapping Service, shows that President Joe Biden would have earned 60.3% of the vote in the draft 52nd District, as opposed to Former President Donald Trump earning 39.7%. The breakdown between Biden and Trump in the 53rd District was 58.5% for Biden and 41.5% of the vote for Trump.

The geographic changes under the special master’s draft don’t introduce any new candidates to the race. The Democratic primary remains between Leslie Danks Burke and Lea Webb, and the sole Republican in the race remains Rich David, although the petitioning period is being extended and so the opportunity for another candidate to get on the ballot is open.

At this point, it appears that a couple of bets made by Danks Burke and Webb in that uncertain period between the New York State Court of Appeals striking down the State Legislature drawn maps and the special master releasing their draft has paid off. 

Prior to the lines being defined, Danks Burke, an Ithaca resident, opened a campaign office in Binghamton and Webb, of Binghamton, organized and announced a fundraiser in Ithaca — both preparing for a heated primary now set to take place on Aug 23. 

Correction (05/19/2022): This article originally indicated that Cervas is set to release his final maps on May 24. The date has been moved to May 20.

Jimmy Jordan is Senior Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn