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Owens downplays redistricting impact of Hinchey's retirement

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Our story by Washington correspondent Marc Heller:

WASHINGTON — Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said he doesn't expect the retirement of Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, D-Saugerties, to have much effect on the drawing of new congressional districts in Northern New York.

Mr. Hinchey announced his retirement last week, as a state legislative task force nears an initial release of redrawn maps for state and federal legislative districts. State Senate and Assembly maps may be made public as soon as tomorrow, while a congressional map could come out in March.

Mr. Hinchey, who recently completed treatment for colon cancer, represents an area stretching from the mid-Hudson Valley to Binghamton and Ithaca.

"I'm not sure it has any significant impact on redistricting," Mr. Owens said, adding that he sees little impact on the north country in any event. News reports have speculated that Democrats in neighboring districts would benefit by the territory being carved up, but that does not include Mr. Owens.

New York is set to lose two congressional districts due to shifts in population among the states. If the past is a guide, one — a Democratic seat — could be downstate, while a Republican-held seat would be targeted upstate.

A co-chairman of the state Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, state Assemblyman John J. McEneny, D-Albany, said the task force will soon turn to drawing congressional districts, but he said he could not comment on any possible impact of Mr. Hinchey's retirement.

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