New Jersey Democrats claim victory in legislative redistricting process

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April 4, 2011

This is the final map as approved by the New Jersey redistricting commission. These districts will be in place until 2020.

TRENTON, New Jersey: Yesterday, New Jersey's legislative redistricting process cross the finish line as the commission approved a new map for the next decade.[1]

The 11th commission member -- Rutgers professor Alan Rosenthal -- was unable to get the 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans to agree on a compromise map. Therefore, he had to choose which map he would cast his tie-breaking vote in favor of. Rosenthal went with the Democrats' map, stating that it "reflected the current distribution of partisan preferences in New Jersey."[2]

General Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), co-chair of the commission, said that the population deviation in districts is less than in previous redistricting maps. "It’s a pretty good day for us, and not so good for the governor, who put a lot on the line," Wisniewski said.[3] Wisniewski is referring to Governor Christie's late involvement in the process, where he attended several meetings to vouch for his preferences.

Overall, the new map is said to make the districts more competitive. The most stark difference between the final map and the one Republicans favored, is the treatment of minorities. Republicans wanted to pack minorities in districts while the approved map spreads their population.[3]

However, General Assemblyman Jay Webber (R), chair of the Republican members of the commission, voiced both displeasure and optimism with the final map -- although he would not discount a possible lawsuit. "We are very disappointed with Dr. Rosenthal's decision. We were very sure that we have the better map. And while we didn't get the map that we wanted, the map that was ultimately produced is better than the one that exists today. Even though we didn't get the map New Jersey deserves, we're getting something that Republicans can run in and win.[4]

The new map could force at least 6 retirements or re-locations of current legislators. Two Senate districts pit two incumbents against one another.[5]

All 40 seats in the State Senate and 80 seats in the General Assembly are up for election in 2011. The signature filing deadline for candidates is April 11 -- only 8 days after the final map was approved. A bill to extend that deadline to April 18 received second reading in the Senate but has advanced no further.

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