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Home > Columnists > Lawyer Nicholas
December 30, 2011

Rothman and Pascrell to Battle in Democrat Primary


Representative Bill Pascrell (D-8) will battle Rothman (D-9) over redrawn ninth district in 2012. (UPI/Kevin Dietsch)

By LAWYER NICHOLAS
     Staff Writer

Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell, two incumbent congressman, will be facing off against each other in the Democrat primary for New Jersey's ninth congressional district seat. This battle, a surprise to most politicos and analysts, resulted from the redistricting map issued last week. Most had thought that Rothman, a resident of Fair Lawn, would fight it out in the general election against conservative Republican incumbent Scott Garrett. Fair Lawn, and a few other towns from the ninth were moved into Garrett's fifth congressional district.

Rothman found that a D - R war in the fifth district, however, was less likely to fruit in his return to congress than if he went after Pascrell in a D to D battle. He probably is right.

 

Pascrell's ninth district may more accurately be described as Rothman's ninth district even though Pascrell, a Paterson resident, currently lives in the new ninth. The problem for Pascrell is the reality that this "new" ninth district is comprised of numerous municipalties that just a few days ago belonged to Rothman's now defunct congressional district. In fact, over sixty percent of the registered Democrats in the new ninth district are from towns Rothman has represented in congress for over a decade.

Rothman quickly assembled the troops and garnered the endorsements of the Democrat chairs from both Bergen and Hudson Counties. The vast majority of the towns in the new ninth district come from Bergen County, and were formerly part of Rothman's old district. There are only two Hudson County municipalities in the new ninth - Secaucus and Kearny - with only part of Kearny actually in the district. Rothman also immdiately obtained the endoresements of a few dozen Bergen municipal chairs and elected officials.

Passaic County, though, is a major player in the changed ninth--and this is Pascrell's turf. John Currie, Passaic County's longstanding county chairman, has already endorsed his congressman, and expressed dissatisfaction that Rothman would carpetbag and move from Fair Lawn into the new ninth to cause this primary. Currie and Pascrell will use their political muscle in an effort to bring out the vote en masse from Paterson and Passaic, two cities that make up a significant portion of this newly formed district. Both cities are situated in Passaic County, and both have been represented by Pascrell for some time.  

The Rothman-Pascrell race boils down to a battle of the cities versus the suburbs. Each candidate's chances of success will largely be rooted in the loyalty of their constituents, or lack thereof. It is unlikely that Rothman will find too many Paterson/Passaic voters to pull the lever for him and, conversely, Pascrell shouldn't expect a plethora of Bergen voters to jump to his ship. With relatively equal money and substantially similar liberal ideologies and congressional records, this election will rise and fall under basic personal popularity.

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