Chalk it up to the poor economy in the north country: Because of a stagnant population, our region's congressional district, which is already, in a word, gigantic, must get even bigger.
Matt Doheny, a portfolio manager of Watertown who wants to win that congressional seat, knows this. (Years in finance have given Mr. Doheny an analytical bent, coupled with a sharp mind and a motor for a mouth. At a coffee shop a few months ago, I saw him demonstrate, with his hands acting as paintbrushes for an imaginary map in the air in front of him, what could happen to the 23rd. With a few swoops up and down, he demonstrates what could happen if the district is cannibalized. Or it could go south, he says, swooping his fingers down. He knows the amount by which the population of the district must grow off the top of his head, as if he was telling you his middle name. Off the top of mine, I can tell you neither. It's somewhere in the tens of thousands. And it starts with an A.)
South is indeed the only way the district can go. We can't take any of Ontario's population, nor Vermont's.
And just to the south of Oswego, the frontier of the 23rd, we have Onondaga County. It's the home turf of freshman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, a Republican. (When I asked, Mr. Doheny declined to speculate about whether he would challenge her in a primary if the map encroached on her territory.)
Will the 23rd (or whatever it will be called) start stretching down into Onondaga? Its population is large — I don't know it off the top of my head, as I'm sure Mr. Doheny does, but the city of Syracuse is in Onondaga.
We won't know until early next year when redistricting gets sorted out, by hook or crook.
But Mr. Doheny is apparently preparing for any eventuality, donating $250 to the Onondaga County Republican Party's housekeeping committee.
Another possibility that's been bandied about is bringing the 23rd District deeper into Oneida County, which would include the cities of Utica and Rome. (Mr. Doheny was generous to his Republican friends in Oneida County, as well.)
Redistricting is full of variables, further complicated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's insistence that the lines not be drawn by state legislators. At this point, alls I can do is speculate. And all that the candidates can do is cover their bases.