Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The (Redistricting) Calm Before the Storm

Yesterday's meeting of the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Committee was one of the calmest sessions I have witnessed in the State House, but don't be fooled. With the loss of one seat in Congress, this commission's deliberations are bound to heat up and provide us with some fireworks.

The session was a formality, with no substantive issues discussed. By-laws were adopted and a Committee Secretary was appointed. The committee, which consists of six Democrats, six Republicans, and a mutually-agreed-upon independent tiebreaker, will re-draw the congressional election districts based on the population shifts enumerated in the 2010 U.S. Census.

There will be at least three public hearings, where advocacy groups can go on record and suggest parameters for the new maps. The first will be at Rutgers-Camden on September 22, and two others will be scheduled, most likely on the Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick and Newark.

State Democratic Party Chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski led a similar effort earlier this year to redraw the lines of New Jersey's legislative districts. I spoke with him at the meeting about his views on the redistricting process:


  1. It is hard to see how Democrats can gain from this redistricting. Five of the six Republican districts are rock-solid and un-gerrymandable. The sixth, of course, is Runyan's, but it is likely to trend even more Republican in 2012, and I don't see where they can find enough Democrats to add to that district, unless they attach Camden to it by a Route 130 "straw".

    Rush Holt was the most vulnerable Democrat incumbent in 2010. My guess is they carve up his district and throw him to the wolves.

  2. So you're saying that we'll retain one of the dumbest members of Congress and lose one of the smartest? You may be right.

    Runyan is a disgrace, and so is the fact that there are no women in the New Jersey congressional delegation. There are at least two very smart Democratic women in Runyan's district who could make the race competitive, but they both live in the far western part of the district which will probably be moved to lifer Rob Andrews' domain.

    It would be a shonda if Holt is redistricted out. I'd rather see Leonard Lance be the one to get the axe. But if Holt leaves Congress, I'd love to see him challenge Chris Christie in 2013.