New Jersey Redistricting Commission

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The New Jersey Redistricting Commission is a constitutional body of the government of New Jersey tasked with redrawing the state's Congressional election districts after each decade's census. Like Arizona, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, and Washington; the redistricting is completed within an independent, bipartisan commission. The apportionment of members of the Redistricting Commission is carefully balanced between legislative and executive majorities and is purposefully titled to allow the minority party an equal number of seats on the commission.

New Jersey congressional districts, 2002–2010.

This commission deals with districts for the U.S. House of Representatives while the New Jersey Apportionment Commission deals with legislative districts for the New Jersey Legislature.

According to the state Constitution, New Jersey's commission has 13 members. The President of the Senate and Assembly Speaker each name two members; the minority leaders of both houses each name two members and the state's Democratic and Republican chairpersons each name two members. The 12 members then select a 13th tie-breaking member to chair of the commission. If they cannot agree on the 13th member, then each party submits a name to the state's Supreme Court, which chooses one as the 13th member.

The commission is required to hold three public meetings, but is otherwise allowed to meet in private until it releases its new map.[1][2]

2013 – 2023 Congressional Map[edit]

On December 23, 2011, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Committee, in compliance with the outcome of the 2010 U.S. Census and the requirements of federal law, consolidated New Jersey's then 13 House seats into 12 congressional districts.[3][4]

Even though both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature were controlled by Democrats,[5] and New Jersey's Congressional delegation in Washington, DC was made up of a majority of Democratic members,[6] the half Democrat and half Republican Commission named a Republican, John Farmer, Jr., as its tie-breaker.[7] Farmer was the former Chief Counsel to Republican Governor Christine Todd Whitman and former New Jersey Attorney General under Republican Governors Whitman and Donald Di Francesco. Earlier in the year, Farmer had been counsel to the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, but not a member of that Commission nor the tie-breaker. The tie-breaker on that Commission was Rutgers University Professor Alan Rosenthal, Democrat.[8]

Of the 6 Democrats on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission, none were from Bergen County, which was the largest county by population in New Jersey.[9][10]

On December 23, 2012, the Commission chose a map by a 7–6 vote, with the tie-breaker Farmer voting for the map advocated for by Republican members.[11] That map created a new 5th Congressional District, combining parts of New Jersey's 5th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Scott Garrett, with parts of the 8th Congressional District, which was represented by Rep. William Pascrell, and parts of the 9th Congressional District, which was represented by Rep. Steve Rothman.[12][13][14]

The Republican plan chosen by the Redistricting Commission removed 7 of the largest Democratic vote-producing municipalities from the 9th District (the Jersey City, North Bergen, and Kearny sections of the District; Fairview, Hackensack, Fair Lawn and two-thirds of Teaneck) and moved major Passaic County cities and towns (Paterson, Passaic and Clifton, Haledon and Prospect Park) into the 9th Congressional District[13][15]

Both the incumbent congressman in the 8th and 9th districts, Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman, announced that they would run in the Democratic Primary for the redrawn 9th Congressional District.[13] Rothman was defeated by Pascrell in the 2012 Democratic Primary[16]

In describing the gerrymandered redistricting, Record Editorial Page Editor Alfred Doblin wrote that "While many folks are looking at the new 5th District as being a combination of the existing 5th and 9th districts, it’s really the current 8th District that is getting the lion’s share of Rothman’s 9th. Rothman’s constituents are in what these folks are calling Pascrell’s district. From a Pascrell point of view, the conversation is going very nicely indeed. No one has been suggesting that Pascrell is the man under the bus. Few suggested last week that the Republican map was really about two incumbent Democrats battling each other, yet that may very well have been the GOP’s intent all along."[17] Doblin continued by writing that Rothman..... "had been swallowed by a whale," like the Biblical Jonah. He described Rothman as 'a mensch'. . . 'a person of integrity and honor.'"[17]

The 2012 elections immediately after the redistricting resulted in six Democrats and six Republicans being elected, despite President Obama winning the state 58–41% that year.

However, the 2018 United States House of Representatives elections were dominated by a "blue wave" of Democratic wins, with Democrats winning 11 of the 12 districts.[18]


  1. ^ New Jersey Constitution of 1947. Article II, Section 2
  2. ^ "NJ Redistricting Commission". NJ Redistricting Commission. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  3. ^ "NJ Redistricting Commission Adopted Map".
  4. ^ Friedman, Matt (December 21, 2010) "N.J. Loses Seat in Congress as Census Bureau Unveils Population Numbers." The Star Ledger.
  5. ^ "New Jersey State Legislature," Ballotpedia, Encyclopedia of American Politics
  7. ^ Farmer Ready to Serve as 13th Commissioner Set to Certify His Section By Max Pizzaro, July 18, 2011, PolitickerNJ.Com/The Observer
  8. ^ Alan Rosenthal, Who Reshaped Legislatures, Dies. Kate Zernike, July 11, 2013, The New York Times.
  9. ^ "NJ Population by County--Total Residents as of 2012 Census," U.S.
  10. ^ N.J. Redistricting Commission
  11. ^ "GOP wins N.J. congressional redistricting battle". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  12. ^ “12.6 Committees, Committee Assignments,” American Government and Politics in the Information Age, The University of Minnesota Library
  13. ^ a b c Johnston, Sid. (January 2, 2012). "Congressional Districts Change for Several Towns" NorthJersey.Com.
  15. ^ New Jersey Tilts Redistricting Battle Toward GOP; The Washington Post. December 27, 2011
  16. ^ Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.
  17. ^ a b Dobin, Alfred (December 23, 2011). "Steve Rothman in the Belly Of the Whale." The Record (New Jersey)
  18. ^ Wu, Yan (November 25, 2018). "These 3 maps show how a Democratic 'blue wave' washed over N.J."

External links[edit]