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Members of Congress in an Albany state of mind

ALBANY -– They’re calling on the phone. They’re traveling here. They’re donating money to state legislators. It must be the once-a-decade congressional redistricting process.

Today, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins made his way to Albany to meet with Assembly Democratic officials who are partly in charge of drawing new congressional district lines to account for population shifts seen in the 2010 Census. New York will lose two congressional seats this time around.

Of course, when it comes to redistricting in Albany, silence is best. "Whatever Mr. Higgins says," responded Assemblyman Jack McEneny, an Albany Democrat, when asked if he had met with Higgins today. McEneny is co-chairman of a joint Assembly and Senate panel drawing up new district lines for state lawmakers -– that plan is due out this week -– and members of Congress. (Republican members of Congress look to the Republican-led Senate to look out for their interests, while Democratic members are reaching out to the Democratic-controlled Assembly to protect their political futures.)

"We talked to a lot of people today," McEneny responded coyly, and then added, "Mr. Higgins was in town today."

Proposed congressional lines might not be out for a few weeks. "We’re focusing on getting the Assembly seats out," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. (That might come Tuesday or Wednesday.)

Silver was asked if the announced retirement last week of Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a Hudson Valley-area Democrat, would result in the disappearance of that seat and a corresponding Republican seat elsewhere in the state. "I really don’t know at this point," Silver said.

--Tom Precious

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