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Proposed 22nd congressional district could lead to tight race

SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) - Congressional hopefuls are taking a close look at the newest versions of redistricting maps, after a judge threw out maps drawn by the Democratically controlled state legislature.

In the map put out by the state legislature, the 22nd Congressional District included parts of six different counties. But the new draft put together by a court appointed special master includes a sliver of Oswego County, and all of Onondaga, Madison, and Oneida counties.

Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, said traditionally, the district that included many of those same areas voted to put more moderate candidates into office.

"The candidates who have had that staying power, two of them, we're talking about two people really, Jim Walsh and John Katko, they're both moderate Republicans,” said Reeher. “I think it's possible for a genuinely moderate Democrat to achieve the same thing in a district that looks like this."

In January, Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney announced her intention to run for the new 23rd district, which included parts of Chenango, Cortland, Broome, and Tioga counties at the time. Now, that district has changed, and her home in Oneida County has moved to the 22nd district.

Reeher said if she runs in the 22nd district, she could face a challenge.

"That's a tougher hill for her to climb, but she's got a lot of name recognition. She has money, she has incumbency, she has a lot of things going for her, and certainly in a primary, she'd be tough to beat," said Reeher.

Tenney has not yet indicated her plans.

The new 22nd district also removes Tompkins County, where several candidates have expressed interest in the seat. Democrat Josh Riley from Ithaca has already announced his intention to campaign in the 19th district instead.

In the Syracuse area, the Onondaga County Democratic Committee has designated Francis Conole as its candidate.

Primaries have been moved back to August. Still, Reeher said because maps have taken so long to finalize, time is tight.

"Voters don't have a lot of time to learn about the candidates and to think about how their district has changed. The candidates don't have a lot of time to get known by the voters, and this just adds to the problem," said Reeher.

Final versions of the new congressional and state senate maps are expected to be approved by a judge Friday.