New Jersey’s Redistricting Commission Bolsters Democrat Strength

Voters cast their ballots on Election Day November 04, 2008, at Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia. Americans crowded polling stations Tuesday to vote in their historic election, with front-running Democrat Barack Obama seeking to become the first black US president and Republican rival John McCain battling for a comeback. …
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The New Jersey Redistricting Commission approved new political maps on Wednesday that bolster the Democrat Party’s strength within some regions of the state.

Although Republicans prevailed in New Jersey’s last redistricting efforts in 2011, Democrats have controlled the New Jersey State House since midway through the Trump administration. Democrats also control ten out of twelve of New Jersey’s congressional districts.

In New Jersey, both Democrats and Republicans appoint six individuals to serve on the redistricting commission. The New Jersey Supreme Court then designates a final member who acts as a tiebreaker.

Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Wallace Jr. cast the tie-breaking vote in Wednesday’s 7-6 decision to approve the map submitted by Democrats. Wallace, a registered Democrat, voted with Democrats because the Republicans drew last decade’s map.

“In the end, I decided to vote with the Democratic map simply because in the last redistricting, the map was drawn by Republicans,” Wallace said. “Democrats should have the opportunity to have their map used in the next redistricting cycle.”

Wallace’s decision saw backlash from New Jersey Republicans, who said Wallace acted as the commission’s “seventh Democrat.”

Republicans criticized Sam Wang, who served as an adviser to Wallace. Republican redistricting chair Doug Steinhardt called attention to a 2018 tweet in which Wang said, “it seems likely that between one-third and one-half of current Trump supporters meet a reasonable definition of racist.”

Steinhardt said in a statement:

The moment hyper-partisan, Democrat Professor Sam Wang and his Princeton Gerrymandering Project were hired as advisers by the Democrat thirteenth member, Republicans and, more importantly, the millions of New Jerseyeans who wanted influence in the State’s federal elections, were unceremoniously boxed out of the decision-making process.

Under the newly approved congressional maps, certain districts moved from leaning Democrat to solidly Democrat. Both Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-NJ) and Rep. Mike Sherrill’s (D-NJ) districts shed conservative areas. Gottheimer’s seat moved from Biden +5 to Biden +12, while Sherrill’s seat went from Biden +7 to Biden +17. Additionally, Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-NJ) seat moved from a district former President Donald Trump carried by less than one percent to one President Joe Biden would carry by 14 percent.

However, to create these Democrat strongholds, the redistricting commission sacrificed Rep. Malinowski’s (D-NJ) seat. As a result, Malinowski’s seat went from Biden +10 to Biden +4.

Malinowski narrowly defeated Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. in the 2020 election. Additionally, he underwent a House Ethics Committee investigation for his stock trading late reports. These facts made Malinowski a vulnerable target for the Democrats on the redistricting commission.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (R-NJ) district became more conservative, which is good news for the lawmaker who made national headlines when he switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 2019. Dave Wasserman explained that the district moved from Trump +3 to Trump +5, “ likely nuking any chance Dems have of defeating him.”

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