The Democrats can claim victory in the battle for New Jersey’s redrawing of legislative districts. The redistricting commission had eleven members, five Democrats and five Republicans with one independent tiebreaker.
Alan Rosenthal, the independent has voted to accept the Democrats’ proposal for the legislative map. This new map will be hugely influential in determining which party will control the state legislature for the next ten years.
The commission worked almost around the clock at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick. Attempts to sway Rosenthal included three visits from New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie. Many political observers could not remember the last time a Governor got involved in the fight for redistricting.
As would be expected Democrats were delighted saying their map met Dr. Rosenthal’s criteria and Republicans were disappointed. Republicans did say even the Democrats' map was better than the current one giving them a chance of winning more seats in the fall election. So far the Republicans have not announced if they would challenge the new map in court.
The new map does put some incumbent Democrats, use to winning reelection by huge margins, in more competitive districts. Sen. Richard Codey, Democrat from Essex will lose the town of Orange while now gaining Republican towns in Morris County. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Democrat from Mercer, hometown of Princeton has been put in a more Republican district. If Gusciora wants to remain in the Assembly, he may move to a more Democratic dominated district.
State Sen. John Girgenti, Democrat from Passaic will retire. A Senator since 1978 he was moved to a new district and decided to retire instead of seeking reelection in his new district.
On the Republican side Sen. Sean Kean from Monmouth and Robert Singer from Ocean are in the same district. Kean has announced he will seek an Assembly seat instead of opposing Singer in a primary.
All 120 legislative seats are up for election in November. Of the Senate’s forty seats Democrats have twenty-four and in the Assembly the Democrats have forty-seven of eighty seats. Primary petitions for the seats are due by April 11th.
Rosenthal said he picked the Democratic map because it gives the minority Republican party a chance to win control of the legislature in a Democratic state.
Of the 5.3 million registered voters, 1.75 million are registered Democrats, 1.07 million registered Republicans and 2.44 million independents. A Republican has not been elected to the United States Senate since 1972 and Democrats have controlled the state legislature since 2004. The Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie is a Republican.
The new map could give Republican Morris County a Democratic State Senator. Sen. Richard Codey of Essex County will now have six Morris County towns in his legislative district. If Codey wins reelection in his 27th district, he will become Morris County’s only Democratic State Senator. Codey has been a State Senator since 1982 and served as acting governor for more than a year. As Senate president he became Governor when Gov. James McGreevey resigned in November 2004.
The towns moved into Codey’s district include Madison, Harding, Hanover, Florham Park, East Hanover, and Chatham Township. Towns moved from the 27th district to the 26th include Livingston, Maplewood, and Essex Fells.
While Codey is seeking reelection, no Republican has announced plans to run against him.