GOP junior congressmen in New Jersey at risk during redistricting

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January 19, 2011

By Kyle Maichle

TRENTON, New Jersey: As the state of New Jersey is going to lose a congressional seat, two GOP junior congressmen are signaling to the map makers that they are not going down without a fight.[1]

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Congressmen Jon Runyan and Leonard Lance are concerned that they may face a 2012 primary challenge if their districts are merged with another congressional district.[2] Both Congressmen urged the New Jersey Redistricting Commission to remove a congressional district from Northeast New Jersey instead of targeting their districts. Congressman Lance told The Hill that his district located in Northwest New Jersey has not experienced population loss in comparison to the Northeastern part of the state.[1]

Both Republicans and Democrats on the redistricting commission have had meetings since December of 2010 to redraw the legislative boundaries.[3] Members of a separate congressional redistricting commission must be appointed by June 15, 2011.[2]

With so much at stake in the 2012 elections, there is the possibility that political preferences may fuel the debate on how the new congressional districts are drawn. Democrats currently hold a one seat edge on congressional seats, but Congressman Lance is hoping the bi-partisan commission will draw a more favorable map without regard to politics.[1] The Hill mentioned that the commission has had a history of protecting incumbents at the expense of congressional members with less seniority.[1] The Asbury Park Press raised concerns about Republicans holding redistricting hearings in a expedited fashion. GOP members of the commission were urged by the newspaper to delay their hearings in a editorial written on January 10, 2011.[4]

During the 2000 Census, both parties on the commission were deadlocked on a plan past the statutory deadline. This led the New Jersey Supreme Court to appoint an independent to break the deadlock. Democrat Congressman Rob Andrews told The Hill that if an independent member has to be appointed to resolve an impasse, the person selected would properly consider where the population loss happened.[1] Andrews agrees with both Congressman Runyan and Lance's assessment that most of the New Jersey's population loss happened in the Northeast region of the state.[1]

The deadline for the Commission to have a congressional redistricting plan in place is January of 2012.[2]

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