Explainer: How Redistricting Can Shape Elections — and What Happens When It Does

Explainer: How Redistricting Can Shape Elections — and What Happens When It Does (via NJSpotlight)

What’s responsible for the extreme divide between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and to a lesser extent, in Trenton? Some political observers believe part of the problem is the way we draw legislative and congressional districts. These days…

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Posted: December 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Elections, NJNewsCommons, Reapportionment, Redistricting | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

The New Congressional Map

The new congressional map can be viewed here.

Give it a minute to download.  It’s a large file.
A few local observations:

Republican Chris Smith will represent most of Monmouth County in the 4th district.

Democrat Rush Holt, 12th district, will no longer represent any of Monmouth County.

Democrat Frank Pallone’s 6thdistrict includes all of coastal Monmouth and Marlboro.  Middletown and Marlboro appear to be entirely in Pallone’s district.  Under the old map it was split between Pallone and Holt.

At first glance, the new 6th district looks to be more competive than the last.  Holt took all or part of Plainfield, a strongly Democratic town where Pallone dominated in 2010 by a huge margin.  Middletown is a large Republican strong hold. Marlboro usually votes Republican except on the municipal level where they have voted in the “LaHornicca” Democrats.

Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Reapportionment, Redistricting | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Republicans Win The Congressional Map Battle

The New Jersey congressional delegation will likely be equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, 6 of each, after the next election, thanks to John Farmer, Dean of Rutgers Law School and the tie breaking member of the redistricting commission.  Farmer told the partisan members of the commission that he would vote for the Republicans’ map when the commission meets in at the Statehouse this morning, according to reports on Politickernj and NJ.com.

The new map will combine portions of the current 5th, 8th and 9th districts and pit incumbent congressmen Scott Garrett (R) and Steve Rothman (D) in a district that gives Republicans a 4% advantage based upon historical voting patterns.

According to the Politickernj story, the new map gives Congressman Chris Smith a larger portion of Monmouth County than his previous 4th district.  The district remains safely Republican for Smith, New Jersey’s longest serving congressman.

The 6th and 12th districts, represented by Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, respectively, remain safe for the Democratic incumbents, according to Politickernj.

The 7th district, represented by Republican Leonard Lance will now be a safer district for the incumbent.

Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Reapportionment, Redistricting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Republicans Win The Congressional Map Battle

Redistricting Commission Looking To Limit Towns Represented By More Than One Congressman

Both Democratic and Republicans members of the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission prefer to reduce the number of towns that are split between two or three districts, according to a report on NJ.com.

If they could find a way to reduce the number of two faced congressmen, that would be real progress.

Due to the one person one vote rule, each district must have 732,658 residents per the 2010 census,  it is mathematically impossible to completely elminate fragmented towns.  So says Bill Caster, the Democrats lawyer on the commission.

Linden and Jersey City have three congressmen.   35 municipalities are divided between two districts.

In Monmouth County, Manalapan, Marlboro and Middletown are each divided between the 6th district, currently represented by Frank Pallone, and the 12thdistrict, currently represented by Rush Holt, both Democrats.

Manalapan and Middletown are Republican towns.  Marlboro usually votes Republican on the county, state and federal levels but has been taken over by the “LaHornicca” Democrats locally.

Manalapan has 9,060 registered voters in the 6th district; 15,787 in the 12th.  Marlboro has 9,148 registered voters in the 6th; 15,957 in the 12th.  Middletown has 21,725 in the 6th and 22,264 in the 12th.

A Republican challenger to either Pallone or Holt would theoretically benefit by each of these towns landing in only one district.  A competitive district could emerge if all three towns were united and placed into the same district.   If that happens, maybe Anna Little will give up her U.S. Senate bid and run for Congress again.

Former State Attorney General John Farmer, the redistricting commission’s chairman and tie breaking vote, has said he would like the commission to complete its work today.  By law, the new map must be completed by January 17th.

Posted: December 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Redistricting | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Redistricting Commission Looking To Limit Towns Represented By More Than One Congressman

A Case For Competitive Congressional Districts

By Art Gallagher

Giving credit where it is do, The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board got one right in their recent editorial lamenting the closure of Fort Monmouth’s commissary.  They give a quick summary of the disaster the closure of Fort Monmouth is and how the entire BRAC decision to close the fort was based on faulting economic and home security data.

Fort Monmouth’s closure and the move of its operations to Aberdeen Maryland was a huge waste of money that compromised national security.  An investigative series by Asbury Park Press reporters Bill Bowman and Keith Brown (which is no longer linkable) documented the waste and fraudulent numbers that BRAC gave Congress to justify the closure.

In their editorial, The Asbury Park Press accurately lays the blame:

The closing of the base was based on faulty economic and security research in the first place, and yet even with the facts on their side, Reps Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, along with Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez could not carry the day.

That is largely due to the fact that the faulty economic and security data was uncovered by Bowman and Brown after Congress had already voted to close the fort.  Pallone, Holt, Lautenberg and Menendez didn’t have the juice to uncover that data before or during the BRAC hearings when it might have made a difference.  Worse, the didn’t have the juice needed with their congressional colleagues to keep the fort in New Jersey.  Maryland’s delegation had the juice.

This latest insulting failure is just one in a decades, maybe centuries, long example of ineffective congressional representation from New Jersey.  Not just Pallone, Holt, Lautenberg and Menendez, but most of the delegation. Every two years during congressional elections challengers complain that New Jersey only gets a fraction of the money we send to Washington sent back, but it never changes.  Has there ever been a House Speaker from New Jersey?  Name on U.S. Senator from New Jersey who could be considered a historic figure.

As Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray indicated during his interview on the LaRossa and Gallagher Radio Show two weeks ago, New Jersey Congressmen have little incentive to represent the interests or philosophies of their constituents.  They vote how ever they want and work on, or don’t work on, whatever they want without regard for the good of their constituents because no matter what they do, their jobs are safe.  Historically, gerrymandering as assured that an incumbent member of congress will be reelected time after time except in the rarest or circumstances.

A competitive congressional district map could go a long way to improving the quality of representation New Jersey gets from the people we send to Washington.  Currently, Congressmen face no consequences for failures like the BRACing of Fort Monmouth.  Despite the rants of congressional challengers every two years about the about of money that New Jersey sends to Washington vs the amount of money that comes back, that situation never changes and our representitives have little incentive to work to change it.

If competitive congressional elections were the norm, rather than a rare exception, New Jersey would get better representation and better results.

New Jersey’s Redistricting Commission has a huge opportunity to create an environment that could lead to an major improvement in the quality of our representation in Washington over the next decade.  If past is prelude, the Democrats and Republicans on the commission will spend the process jockeying for influence with the “13th tie breaking” member.  The commission will predictably produce a winning map for one party which will be a losing map for the other party. 

For New Jersey to have a “winning map” would require at least one party to propose a competitive map based upon population and geography only without regard for the residency of incumbents or the historical voting trends of residents, and for the “13th member,” former Attorney General and Acting Governor for ninety minutes, John Farmer Jr, to do the right thing.

Otherwise, it won’t really matter much which party “wins” the redistricting battle.  New Jersey’s representation in Washington will not likely improve if the people will send there have little incentive to work for it.

By the way, Lautenberg and Pallone are scheduled to make a “surprise announcement” in Belmar tomorrow. 

Pray for rain. 

Maybe Lautenberg is announcing his retirement and endorsing Pallone to replace him.  Not likely, but one can hope.

More likely they will announce some legislation they are sponsoring that will probably never become law or some appropriation they are proposing or maybe even secured that will not have nearly postive impact on New Jersey that the negative impact that the closure of Fort Monmouth will have.

Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Congress, Congressional Redistricting, Frank Lautenberg, Frank Pallone, LaRossa and Gallagher, Patrick Murray, Redistricting, Rush Holt | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Could Pallone Be A Redistricting Target?

By Art Gallagher

The Star Ledger’s Auditor  is raising the question. 

The members of the Redistricting Commission must be appointed by June 15.   The Auditor says he/she was told that Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski plans to void the appointment of Belmar resident Maggie Moran to the commission.  Moran, former Governor Corzine’s deputy chief of staff and campaign manager, was appointed to the commission by former Chairman Joe Cryan, at Pallone’s urging, as one of Cryan’s last acts before turning the chairmanship over to Wisniewski.

Moran, who is the wife of Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, is supposed to be Pallone’s eyes and ears on the commission.   Her removal would be a blow to Pallone, according to The Auditor, this year in particular as New Jersey is losing a congressional district.  One incumbent congressman will lose his job regardless of the electoral outcome.  The Auditor implies that Democratic boss George Norcross and Republican Governor Chris Christie would like that incumbent to be Pallone.

How would that work?

220px-nj_109th_congressional_districts_shaded_by_partyPallone’s 6th district borders the 4th, 7th, 12th and 13th districts.  He resides in Long Branch which is in the south east coastal part of the district.

While it is entirely possible in New Jersey that a gerrymandered district that includes Long Branch of Monmouth County could be combined with Clinton Township in Hunterdon County, home of 7th district Republican Congressman Leonard Lance or West New York, Hudson County, home of 13th district Democratic Congressman Albio Sires, neither scenario is likely.

Combining Pallone’s 6th with Rush Holt’s 12th would make sense based on geography as the 12th shares the largest border with the 6th.  Even though neither Pallone or Holt is particularly well liked by Democratic leaders in New Jersey or Washington, it is unlikely that the Democrats would surrender a district without a fight. 

Which would leave a match up between New Jersey’s two most senior congressmen, Pallone who has been in Congress since 1988 and 4th district Congressman Republican Chris Smith who has served since 1981.  While it would be unusual that seniority be discarded as an incumbent protection consideration during a redistricting battle, an argument could be made along the lines of “continuity of representation.”  Pallone first went to Congress as the representative of the 3rd district after the death of Congressman James Howard.  Much of the pre-1992 3rd district is now part of the 4th.

Even with his $4 million war chest, it is hard to imagine Pallone beating Smith in a combined district that includes southeast Monmouth and portions of Republican Ocean and Burlington counties.  Smith would dominate in his Mercer home turf.

Pallone vs. Smith would be a great race.  It probably won’t happen.  I’ll explain why at the end of this piece.  But first let’s have some fun speculating about the fallout of such a district.

If Long Branch and Pallone are moved south into a district combined with portions of Smith’s (of Hamilton in Mercer County) 4th district,  it would make sense that the Northern Monmouth portions of the present 6th district would be folded into the Rush Holt’s 12th district.  

That would create an interesting race for the GOP nomination in the 12th.  Diane Gooch, Mike Halfacre, Anna Little, and Scott Sipprelle could all be contenders for that nomination.

Little beat Gooch for the 6th district nomination primary by 83 votes before losing to Pallone by 11% in the 2010 general election.  She declared that a loss of only 11% was a victory and launched her 2012 race against Pallone in the weirdest election night concession speech ever.   Since election night 2010 Little has alienated herself from both her local Tea Party and establishment GOP supporters.  She’s chomping at the bit for a rematch with both Gooch and Pallone, but she’s referred to as a “coo coo bird” by former supporters.  A Pallone-Smith match up would wreck havoc on her delusions.   Only Little, her family and Larry Cirignano, her escort/handler/manager/driver/tenant, believe Anna Little will ever be nominated for congress again.

Halfacre, the Mayor of Fair Haven, has been kicking himself for bowing out of the race for the 12th district nomination since Tea Party candidate David Corsi beat Sipprelle in Monmouth County in the 2010 primary.  Sipprelle won the nomination by virtue of his margin of victory in Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon before losing to Holt by 7% in the general. 

Halfacre was the Tea Party favorite during his contentious race against Sipprelle for the party lines in 2010. Sipprelle won all the county party lines and Halfacre correctly concluded that a primary against Sipprelle without at least the Monmouth or Middlesex lines was not winnable.  Corsi’s Monmouth victory naturally lead to “what ifs?”  Little’s narrow victory over Gooch created additional “what ifs?”

But the self funding Sipprelle did not spend any money to defeat Corsi.   Gooch took victory over Little for granted in the primary.   Given how contentious the Sipprelle-Halfacre county conventions/screenings were, it is likely that a primary between to two would have been bloody and expensive.  Halfacre couldn’t have matched Sipprelle’s money.

Halfacre would have a heavy lift to regain his Tea Party support.  If either Gooch or Sipprelle seek the nomination, he would have a heavier lift to raise the money necessary to compete.  After Little’s victory in the 2010 primary, it will be a long time before any candidate or county party organization takes a Tea Party challenge for granted.  Halfacre’s best hope for a nomination against Holt is for both Gooch and Sipprelle to conclude that 2012, a presidential year with Obama leading the ticket, is not the year to take on Holt.   

Both Gooch and Sipprelle are staying in front of the party faithful.  Gooch with Strong New Jersey and Sipprelle with the Lincoln Club of New Jersey, organizations each has founded since losing their respective races.  Gooch has been open about wanting to run for congress again, depending on how the districts are drawn.  Sipprelle has been coy about a future candidacy.

A Gooch-Sipprelle primary defies imagination.  Given the money both could spend on such a race, a deal would likely be brokered by the state and county party chairmen before it would occur.  But if ego got the better of either of them, it would be quite a race.   A more sensible sceanario would be for one of the millionaires to take on U.S . Senator Robert Menendez while the other takes on Holt.  

So while redistricting Pallone and Smith into the same district could make the Republican nomination contest in the Holt’s district more interesting, a Pallone-Smith battle is unlikely even should a district be drawn that way.  Should such a district be drawn look for Pallone to retire from the House and use his hefty war chest as a down payment for a statewide race for Governor in 2013.

Pallone’s $4 million war chest would clear the field of Democratic candidates for Governor, unless Chris Christie isn’t a candidate or has anemic poll numbers, neither of which is likely.  Christie would love to defeat Pallone, which he would but it would probably be a close race.  Pallone would then run for U.S. Senate in 2014, assuming Frank Lautenberg finally retires.

Posted: June 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Anna Little, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, Diane Gooch, Frank Pallone, Lincoln Club, Mike Halfacre, Pallone, Redistricting, Robert Menendez, Rush Holt, Scott Sipprelle, Strong New Jersey, Tea Party | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

This is a compromise? So much for turning Trenton upside down

By Art Gallagher

Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney announced that they had reached a compromise over the nomination of Anne Patterson to the NJ Supreme Court.  

Christie nominated Patterson to the court one year ago today to fill the seek of John Wallace.  Wallace’s term was expiring but he had not reached the age of mandatory retirement.  Christie acted within his constitutional authority but broke with tradition by not reappointing Wallace.

Christie’s Democratic critics, in the legislature and the media, charged that the governor was interfering with the independence of the judiciary.   Christie countered that he was fulfilling his campaign promise to reshape the court which has a long history of overstepping its bounds and legislating from the bench, especially with the Abbott decision which mandates education spending and the Mt. Laurel decision which mandates the development of affordable housing.  These two judicial decisions are responsible for New Jersey’s highest in the nation property taxes.

Sweeney pledged that Patterson would not get a hearing in the Senate and that her nomination would not be voted on until Wallace, who hails from Sweeney’s home county of Gloucester, reached the age of retirement; March of 2012.  For a year the Wallace seat has filled by appellate Judge Edwin Stern who was appointed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner as a temporary fill-in.

As a result of the “compromise” announced yesterday between Christie and Sweeney, the governor will withdraw Patterson’s nomination to Wallace seat and nominate her for the seat of retiring Justice Roberto Rivera-Sota.  Sweeney pledged a fair hearing for Patterson, and that timely hearings will be held for the Wallace seat and the seat of
Justice Virginia Long who reaches the mandatory retirement age in 2012.

I fail to see the “deal” here.  Where’s the compromise?  What did Christie get?   Christie could have withdrawn Patterson’s nomination for Wallace’s seat and nominated her for Rivera-Soto’s seat without consulting Sweeney.  Sweeney keeps the Wallace seat filled by Stern until March.  Was Sweeney threatening to hold up the nominations to replace Wallace and Long beyond their retirement dates?  Would Sweeney allow three seats on the seven member court to be held by temporary Justices appointed by Rabner? 

The other thing I don’t like about this deal capitulation, is that it is an indication that Christie assumes that Sweeney will be Senate President next year.  While that may be a realistic expectation given the new gerrymandered legislative map, it is disappointing to think that Christie, as the leader of the Republican party, has already given up on trying to win control of the Senate in the legislative election this November.

If Christie has given up on winning control of the Senate, who am I to argue that it is possible?

So much for turning Trenton upside down.

Christie has a Town Hall meeting in Manalapan this afternoon.

Posted: May 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, COAH, Education, Legislature, Property Taxes, Reapportionment, Redistricting, Reform Agenda, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »


(TRENTON) — Assemblyman John Wisniewski, the Democratic Co-Chair of the Legislative Apportionment Commission, issued the following statement on the Tea Party’s court challenge to the recently approved redistricting map:

     “We are extremely confident in the constitutionality of the recently adopted map, which underwent a through review by not only our attorneys, but former Attorney General John Farmer, who served as counsel to the 11th member of the commission.

     “This is a map that not only met traditional redistricting criteria but improved upon compactness, competitiveness and one-person, one-vote standards and will ultimately be found constitutional,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). 

Posted: April 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Redistricting | Tags: , , | Comments Off on WISNIEWSKI:NEW LEGISLATIVE MAP WILL WITHSTAND TEA PARTY COURT CHALLENGE

Bayshore Tea Party Group, 38 Registered Voters, File Suit To Overturn New Legislative Map

Lawsuit challenges the validity of the New Jersey Legislative District Map



Red Bank, NJ – The Bayshore Tea Party group along with 38 Plaintiffs, representing all 21 counties in New Jersey, filed a civil action today against the Democrat members of the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, the 11th Member, Alan Rosenthal, Kim Guadagno, in her official capacity as Secretary of State of New Jersey, Paula Dow, Attorney General and Robert F. Giles, Director of the Division of Elections of the State of New Jersey, in Superior Court, Chancery Division, Ocean County.


The action claims the Legislative district map approved by the commission on April 3, 2011, is in violation of the Federal and New Jersey Constitutions. It is further stated that other federal and state laws were violated against the interests of the registered voters of New Jersey.


According to the preliminary statement filed today in court, the Commission Map in its current construction dilutes or nullifies the voice of the voters in the southern half of the state and in the state’s two largest municipalities, Newark and Jersey City. The lawsuit claims the Commission Map over-packed the southern half of the state causing an unconstitutional 18% deviation, which is 8% higher than the 10% deviation permitted by US Supreme Court precedent. Also, alleged in this suit are illegal splits of Newark and Jersey City from three districts each to two. These splits dilute the representation of these urban municipalities by reducing the number of elected legislators from 9 representatives to 6 in violation of New Jersey Supreme Court precedent.


Barbara Gonzalez, founder of Bayshore Tea Party Group and a Plaintiff in the suit said “After reviewing the commission map, I noticed several violations affecting the voter’s integrity. This lawsuit is crucial to protect the longstanding ‘one person, one vote’ principle. I hope our diligence will raise voter awareness of the voters of New Jersey to recognize the value of their vote.”

The 42 page complaint can be viewed and downloaded here.



Posted: April 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Bayshore Tea Party Group, Reapportionment, Redistricting | Tags: , , | 24 Comments »

In the 11th: DuPont Not Running, Gopal Is Bidding For Assembly, Jacobson Might Challenge Casagrande

Santiago likely for Senate

By Art Gallagher

MoreMonmouthMusings has learned that Red Bank Councilman Michael DuPont, also the Treasurer of the NJ Turnpike Authority and Borough Attorney of Sayreville, will not be a candidate for Senate or Assembly in the new 11th legislative district. 

DuPont told RedBankGreen ,”it’s not happening.  I have a young family, including twin four year olds.”  Translation: Being a Senator would be a pay cut for DuPont that he can’t afford now.

Former West Long Branch Democratic Chairman and Kucinich for President Deputy National Campaign Manager Vin Gopal confirmed that he is in the running for an Assembly nomination in the 11th.

Gopal will not have an easy ride to the nomination in the competitive field. Sources who swear they will never talk to me again if I name them say State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski is opposed to Gopal’s candidacy because of how Vin cost The Wiz a Senate seat by rallying progressive Democrats against the Chairman’s preferred legislative map.  As co-chair the the Redistricting Commission, Wisniewski proposed a Middlesex County District that would have pitted ultra liberal Kucinch type Democratic Senators Barbara Buono and Joe Vitale in the same district and left the Wiz in a district with no incumbent Senator so that he could move up himself.  In part because of Gopal’s efforts, Middlesex got a Senate vacancy in the 12th that is going to Sam Thompson.

Freehold Township attorney Ray Santiago is now said to be the front runner for the Democratic Senate nod in the 11th, rather than a candidate for Surrogate or Assembly as previously reported.   Boosters of Santiago for Senate are touting his Hispanic origin.  Someone should tell them that Gopal is Asian.

Elsewhere in the 11th, Republican publisher and former Democratic Assemblyman Dan Jacobson announced in the triCityNews that he is now considering running in the GOP primary for Assembly against Caroline Casagrande now that Sean Kean is in the 30th district.  Jacobson said in the triCityNews published yesterday that he was going to take a week to mull it over.  I was going to plead with my readers not to tell Dan that the filing deadline in Monday the 11th, but Jacobson just said he wrote that eariler in the week and is aware of the deadline.  He said that he will make a decision over the weekend.

Posted: April 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: NJ State Legislature, Redistricting | Tags: | 14 Comments »