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]

2012 - 2021 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. He was also the 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, Democrat, Alan Rosenthal.[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] Edward Farmer (no relation to John Farmer, Jr.) was one of those 6 Democrats. He had served 7 years as the Chief of Staff to Congressman Bill Pascrell.[11] [12]

On December 23, 2012, the thus-comprised Commission chose a map advocated by Republican members.[13] That map created a new 5th Congressional District, combining parts of New Jersey's 5th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Scott Garrett (age 53), with parts of the 8th Congressional District, which was represented by Rep. William Pascrell (age 75), and parts of the 9th Congressional District, which was represented by Rep. Steve Rothman (age 60).[14][15][16]

At the time of the creation of this new map, Congressmen Rothman and Pascrell were members of two of the most powerful committees in the U.S. House of Representatives: [17]Rothman, with a 12-year tenure on the House Appropriations Committee; and Pascrell, with a 6-year tenure on the House Ways and Means Committee.[18]

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[19][20]

The incumbent congressman in the 8th District, lifelong Passaic County resident Congressman Bill Pascrell, the former Mayor of Paterson and New Jersey State Assemblyman from Passaic County, announced that he would run in the Democratic Primary for the redrawn 9th Congressional District. Rep. Pascrell had represented the 8th Congressional District since 1997.[21]

The incumbent congressman in the 9th District, lifelong Bergen County resident Congressman Steve Rothman, the former Mayor of Englewood and elected Bergen County Surrogate Court Judge, announced that he would run in the Democratic Primary for re-election in the 9th Congressional District. Rep. Rothman had represented the 9th Congressional District since 1997.[22]

Rothman was defeated by Pascrell in the 2012 Democratic Primary[23]

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."[24] 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.'"[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Jersey Constitution of 1947. Article II, Section 2
  2. ^ "NJ Redistricting Commission". NJ Redistricting Commission. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  3. ^ N.J. Redistricting Commission
  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, Encylopedia of American Politics
  6. ^ OFFICE OF THE CLERK, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HISTORICAL DATA
  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 at By Kate Zernike, July 11, 2013, The New York Time
  9. ^ "NJ Population by County--Total Residents as of 2012 Census," U.S. -Places.com.
  10. ^ N.J. Redistricting Commission
  11. ^ Edward Farmer, CEO & President, Millennium Strategies, M-Strat.com.
  12. ^ N.J. Redistricting Commission
  13. ^ GOP Wins NJ Congressional Redistricting Battle,” By Matt Friedman, December 23, 2011, NJ Advance Media for NJ.Com.
  14. ^ “12.6 Committees, Committee Assignments,” American Government and Politics in the Information Age, The University of Minnesota Library
  15. ^ Johnston, Sid. (January 2, 2012). "Congressional Districts Change for Several Towns" NorthJersey.Com.
  16. ^ OF THE CLERK, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HISTORICAL DATA
  17. ^ 12.6 Committees, Committee Assignments,” American Government and Politics in the Information Age, The University of Minnesota Library.
  18. ^ Office Of The Clerk, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HISTORICAL DATA.
  19. ^ Johnston, Sid. (January 2, 2012). "Congressional Districts Change for Several Towns" NorthJersey.Com.
  20. ^ New Jersey Tilts Redistricting Battle Toward GOP; The Washington Post. December 27, 2011
  21. ^ Johnston, Sid. (January 2, 2012). "Congressional Districts Change for Several Towns" NorthJersey.Com.
  22. ^ Johnston, Sid. (January 2, 2012). "Congressional Districts Change for Several Towns" NorthJersey.Com.
  23. ^ Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.
  24. ^ Dobin, Alfred (December 23, 2011). "Steve Rothman in the Belly Of the Whale." The Record (New Jersey)
  25. ^ Dobin, Alfred (December 23, 2011). "Steve Rothman in the Belly Of the Whale." The Record (New Jersey).

External links[edit]