Harlem’s Houdini: Rangel district survives in court redistricting plan

Historic Harlem congressional district remains largely in Upper Manhattan

New York’s 81-year-old political Houdini, Rep. Charles Rangel, appears to have managed another escape. This morning Magistrate Roanne L. Mann, the judge in charge of New York’s redistricting process, released drafts of her proposed maps for Congress. The maps leave Rangel’s district almost intact – despite media reports to the contrary and Mann’s close attention to the proposal by the reform group Common Cause that would have placed Rangel’s Harlem residence in a district based primarily in the Bronx. Rangel’s uptown Manhattan district would change number to become District 13, while the 15th Congressional District (the number of Rangel’s current seat) would be located entirely in the Bronx. You can see Rangel’s proposed district here.

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  1. Sasha, the Harlem Houdini, really? The only question concerning Rep. Rangel was whether or not his district should be expanded into the Bronx and Westchester counties, in order to maintain an African American majority. Magistrate Judge Mann has correctly decided to let the district continue its demographic trend towards a Hispanic majority. Judge Mann extends the district from its home base of Harlem and East Harlem into the Bronx neighborhoods of Marble Hill, Kingsbridge and Norwood.

    • Michael, thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken that many of the leading alternatives for Rep. Rangel were plans intended to create an African-American majority. But the Common Cause plan calls for a district that would have been Latino majority and primarily based in the Bronx. Avoiding a district based in the Bronx has been Rangel’s primary concern in his public comments about redistricting, largely because of his close ties to the Manhattan Democratic Party. Since Rangel kept a Manhattan-based district even as the judge adopted much of the rest of the Common Cause plan, I felt he did dodge a bullet.