Legislative distribution commission approves new bipartisan voting card today, ending months and four days tense negotiations on how to draw 40 state legislatures for the next ten years.
The 9-2 vote was the first in the state’s history when the legislative card was approved in a bipartisan manner; in each previous cycle the commission tie-break was forced to choose between competing cards drawn by each side. This year’s tie-break, former Supreme Court Justice Philip Karchman, clearly hoped to avoid such a choice, and successfully persuaded guerrilla commission delegations to draw a compromise card while playing at the Plainsbury Hotel last week.
“We have the first one-party consensus map in New Jersey,” Karchman said today. “Think of what it takes now and in the age of politics to achieve a bipartisan card.”
Republican Commissioner and former Senate Minority Leader Tom Keane Jr. (R-Westfield) voted against, arguing that “there should have been more time to negotiate a fairer map”, as did Democratic Commissioner Cosmo Cyril, Western New York’s commissioner. which objected to the repainting Hudson County.
“Is the card perfect?” Said Karhman in an inconspicuous response to scattered criticism of the map. “The answer is very simple: no, not perfect. It will never be perfect because no perfect map you can find it anywhere. ”
Commission began its work in Octoberbut receded into the Congressional Committee on Reconstruction, which approved a map drawn by Democrats in controversial and secret process – before the beginning of this year. After nine public hearings, each delegation to the commission released Fr. separate draft card last week, followed by two more public hearings full of reviews on suggestions.
Both initial proposals significantly changed the current map that Democrats drew up in 2011 in various ways that would benefit their parties. But Karhman showed little of which proposal he preferred, and encouraged the commissioners to draw a map in tandem with each other, which they eventually decided to do.
As for the most accepted map, most of the state will be depicted in much the same way as it is now, with a few notable exceptions and with some fluctuations.
The Democrats ’attempt to mess with several incumbent Republican leaders in Morris County was overturned, as was the Republican proposal to completely redraw Central Jersey to the detriment of more than a dozen Democratic candidates.
But in Essex and Hudson counties, the commission has radically reversed the status quo. The map creates two matches between senators – former Gov. Richard Cody (D-Rosland) and State Senator Nia Gill (D-Mantler) in Essexand State Senators Nicholas Saka (North Bergen) and Brian Stack (D-Union City) in the Hudson – and moves a large number of members of the Assembly to new places.
Almost every district in the state has changed in some way, big or small, so almost every incumbent president will have to campaign at least in the new territory in 2023.
Ultimately, although the process was much more transparent than that of a congressional committee, the end result was about the same: a map secretly drawn at the hotel was published only after it had already become law.
So once the map is in place, New Jersey people and politicians will need to see how it will affect their cities, communities and neighborhoods, and plan their next steps accordingly.