Rep. Eliot Engel could have a Democratic challenger if Judge Roanne Mann’s proposed district lines become the law of the land.
Although redistricting maps are far from finalized, special master Judge Mann proposes Mr. Engel’s district change drastically. Only 49 percent of the current district’s voters would be in the new district, most of those new voters coming from Westchester and Co-op City in the Bronx.
Is there someone from those areas powerful enough to take Mr. Engel on?
Mr. Engel has run unopposed in the Democratic primary for his seat the last two election years, in 2008 and 2010. Actually, the last time anyone gave him a run for his money was in 2000, when Councilman Larry Seabrook challenged him and lost. Previous challengers Kevin McAdams (2004) and Jessica Flagg (2004 and 2006) said they would not challenge Mr. Engel again.
Even though Co-op may be part of the district, it’s unlikely Mr. Seabrook, who has battles to fight in court, would run. State Sen. Jeff Klein seems satisfied with his role as head of the IDC in the state Senate, so it also seems unlikely he would run.
But what about Bronx county Democratic boss Carl Heastie?
Mr. Heastie’s entire current district, just west of Co-op City representing Baychester, Edenwald and Wakefield in the Bronx is within Judge Mann’s proposed district. Mr. Engel is from Co-op City and previously represented it, which could help him woo voters from there too.
Mr. Heastie is not shy about taking on Mr. Engel. He even joined Mr. Seabrook to collect signatures for Mr. McAdams when he challenged Mr. Engel in 2004.
If Mr. Heastie were to run, Bronx pols would have to make a big decision: back the county boss or the entrenched incumbent?
The first name that comes to mind is state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, but her spokesman said there’s no chance.
Then there’s Yonkers City Council president Chuck Lesnick. Mr. Lesnick said he may run in the future, but he does not see a redistricting scenario that would spark a run now.