Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Koch Plans to Make Redistricting Personal

ALBANY — Last year, Edward I. Koch placed automated telephone calls to voters on behalf of scores of candidates who signed his pledge to support redrawing Congressional and legislative districts in an independent, nonpartisan manner.

Now Mr. Koch, the former New York City mayor, is picking up the telephone again, but with a very different tone. In the coming weeks, he will record so-called robo calls to the constituents of state legislators whom he deems to have reneged on their redistricting pledge.

“Enemies of reform,” Mr. Koch will call them, and he is ready for a fight. “My hope is that ultimately everybody gets behind this, out of integrity or shame,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Either one’s O.K.”

Mr. Koch’s year-old campaign to rid partisanship from the redistricting process received its biggest boost two weeks ago when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced legislation that would create an independent commission to redraw district boundaries. That arrangement was consistent with Mr. Koch’s pledge, which drew the support of a majority of the State Senate and Assembly.

Still, Mr. Cuomo’s bill faces an uncertain future. The Senate Republican leader, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, introduced the bill through a procedure that has prevented Senate Democrats from signing on as co-sponsors. Democrats have repeatedly accused Mr. Skelos and his conference, which retook a slim majority in November, of trying to wiggle out of the pledge, which all 32 Senate Republicans signed.

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