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Court releases district plan

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This post will continue to be updated.

A federal court has released its own plan for the north country congressional seat, pulling the district out of Central New York and incorporating more of the Capital Region.

This plan is much more likely to become a reality than the state Senate's and Assembly's proposals did; the federal court overseeing New York's once-a-decade redistricting process is willing to impose its will on the state if the two chambers can't come to an agreement.

The map was released a week early, and could be tweaked before petitioning to get on the ballot starts on March 20.

The district no longer includes Oswego County or Oneida County — to the likely chagrin of Assembly Democrats, whose plan brought Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, into Democrat-heavy Utica.

The district would stretch into the rest of Essex County, the reset of Fulton County, Warren County, Saratoga County and Washington County.

Hoffman, again

The plan includes the rest of Essex County, home of Doug Hoffman, a Lake Placid accountant. Mr. Hoffman is said to be more likely to run in the district if he actually lives in the district — in 2009 and 2010, he ran in the district even though he lived just outside of it, which is perfectly legal.

Whether he could pose a formidable challenge to Republican Matt Doheny, who is working to seal the deal in these next few days, is another question. The short time frame would make raising money and getting on the ballot pretty difficult, and many of Mr. Hoffman's supporters have started lining up behind Mr. Doheny or Kellie Greene, a Sackets Harbor resident.

Mr. Hoffman says he has the grassroots support to pull it off.

Buerkle safer

As the State of Politics blog from YNN notes, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, was unthrown from under the bus.

Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans put the conservative rep in a district that included Democrat-heavy Tompkins County, but her district might actually grow a big more Republican by heading into the GOP enclave of Oswego County.

D or R? More R, Wasserman says

It's not clear how this district proposal would change the voter registration edge in the north country. It's a majority Republican district right now. And the new counties — Herkimer, Warren, Washington and Saratoga, plus the rest of Essex and Fulton — are majority Republican. (Dave Wasserman tweets that Saratoga will be good for Mr. Owens "in the long run.")

But the parts of the district that would be gone — Oswego County, Madison County, and Oneida — are heavily Republican, too.

Mr. Wasserman, the House editor of the Cook Political Report, tells me that the district will indeed become more Republican, but overall, the changes are good news for Mr. Owens.

"The Democratic coalition nationally is becoming a little bit more upscale, and Republicans are growing with downscale voters. So picking up Saratoga and losing Oswego, Madison and Oneida, I think is good news for Owens," Mr. Wasserman said.

Geography, too, plays a part. Plattsburgh, Mr. Owens' home town, is just up the road from Saratoga, while Jefferson County, home to two of Mr. Owens's potential challengers, is quite a distance away.

"It’s a long trek across the Adirondacks to get to Watertown," he said. "Owens has proven he can do fairly well in Watertown. So I think it’s the best of all worlds."

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