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Home > Columnists > Alice Park
December 28, 2011

GOP rejoices over New Jersey’s new redistricting map


Representative Steve Rothman became the odd man out in New Jersey's redistricting battle. (iw/Ian Wagreich)

By ALICE PARK
      News Editor

The reconfiguration of New Jersey’s congressional districts was approved by the congressional redistricting commission on Friday. The number of districts went down from 13 to 12 and to the bane of Democrats, the newly adopted map placed U.S. Representative Steve Rothman (D-9) in a district with Scott Garrett (R-5), where majority of voters have traditionally put Republican incumbents into office.

The new district strongly resembles Garrett’s previous one, comprising of Warren, Sussex and northern Bergen counties. Also thrown in there is Rothman’s hometown of Fair Lawn, along with two Democratic strongholds: Hackensack and 80% of Teaneck. In total, Rothman currently represents 20% of the redrawn district, while Garrett represents a whopping 80%.

Garrett issued a statement celebrating the tie-breaking vote from John Farmer Jr., Dean of Rutgers-Newark Law School, saying, “Some of the district’s lines may have changed, but my commitment to working to protect the family budget continues. I look forward to continuing my work. I would like to thank John Farmer, the commissioners and the staff who worked very hard for many months to develop a redistricting plan for New Jersey.”  

Farmer previously rejected the map proposed by the redistricting commission’s six Democrats, which put Rothman and Garrett in an allegedly evenly matched district. In defense of his decision, Farmer stated on Friday, “The map I am prepared to support today is in every measure an improvement of the preexisting current map.” The final new map, he feels, is more compact with equal populations in each district and sustains competition. Also, most people will retain the same congressman.

­­“The new map will ensure that New Jersey will be fairly represented by our congressional delegation. It is an accurate depiction of our very diverse state that will allow voters to decide how we should be represented in Washington. The members of the New Jersey Redistricting Commission worked tirelessly and with bipartisan cooperation to achieve this success for the voters of New Jersey. I applaud their effort and congratulate their result,” said Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union).

Sharing Kean’s sentiment, Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris/Passaic) said, “I would like to thank the commission members for their efforts in arriving at a fair and impartial map. In particular, I would like to commend John Farmer Jr. for his professionalism in working with both sides during the process. Mr. Farmer’s leadership and knowledge helped ensure that fairness for voters was the commission’s highest priority. The new map provides an equal opportunity for New Jersey’s residents to select a representative who will best serve their needs, regardless of party affiliation.”

While the state’s GOP is riding on the morale-boosting win, Representative Rothman will prepare for battle against Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-8) next year. As Pascrell would inherit Rothman's current number in 2012, Rothman officially announced his 9th district bid to reclaim his constituency. The new 9th district contains 54% of voters currently represented by Rothman. 

Rothman, who currently resides in Fair Lawn and once held the position of mayor in Englewood, plans to move into the new district. 

Pascrell responded to his colleague's bid in a statement saying, "Regardless of today’s news, I am already out there working for the people of 9th Congressional District. I have received a tremendous response from the people of  Passaic, Bergen and Hudson Counties. Everyone who knows me knows that I am a fighter who is ready for whatever may come. I will be as relentless in the election as I have been for my constituents. I do not know the meaning of the word quit.”

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