Conservative NY congresswoman in redistricting danger — from her own party

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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New York Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, ranked by the Club for Growth as the most conservative woman in the House, may have a difficult road to re-election this fall as a result of a redistricting — not because Democrats are trying to get rid of her, but because her own party is.

The redistricting map submitted by the New York Republican state Senate would all but ensure that Buerkle doesn’t win reelection in New York’s 25th District, which she currently represents. The district drawn by the Democratic State Assembly would offer her no better chance. A third compromise map drawn by a judge suits Buerkle much better.

Sources near Buerkle’s campaign suggested that the arrangement of the map was political on the part of state Senate Republicans.

“It’s hardly surprising that Albany politicians and lobbyists have allowed cheap politics to dominate this process,” said a source close to her campaign who asked not to be named. “But the voters of New York have grown tired of shady backroom deals, and they will see right through this.”

Buerkle wrote an open letter to the judge in which she made clear just how displeased she was with the map put forward by her own party. She urged that both the Republican and Democratic maps be rejected.

But “when she expressed concerns that the process was unfair [to New York Republican leadership], several folks in the leadership in Albany dismissed her concerns as irrelevant and indicated to the campaign that she didn’t factor in their outcome,” said another source familiar with the situation who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, called the allegations of political motives “absolutely not true,” in a statement provided to The Daily Caller. “The district lines that we proposed were based on population shifts that occurred since the last census,” Skelos wrote.

But displeasure at Buerkle on the part of the leadership would not be entirely surprising, other sources say.

“Rep. Buerkle has upset the Republican leadership in Washington and Albany on several occasions and doesn’t seem to care much about what they think,” said Republican strategist Michael Caputo. “Not a team player, fiercely independent — call it whatever you want, but she’s not popular among leaders.”

Tom Dadey, Chairman of the Onondaga Republican Party and a Buerkle supporter said that he was calling Republican legislators and urging them to support the judge’s version of the map. He said that if one of the other maps were passed, Buerkle ought to keep her options open and consider running in a different district.

“Obviously I want her to run and get elected in Onondaga county and represent us,” Dadey said, “but on the other hand if she’s going to get railroaded,” he went on, she should consider other possibilities.

Dadey pointed out that unlike other state representatives, Buerkle did not hire lobbyists to plead her case to the state legislature on redistricting, nor did she donate to the campaigns of Republican state legislators, while other members of the New York delegation “contributed heavily.”

Buerkle is ranked by the Club for Growth as the most conservative woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, and by the Heritage Foundation as the most conservative member of the New York delegation. Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said he would support Buerkle no matter what, even if she primaried another Republican in a nearby district.

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Alexis Levinson