Larry Casha compared it to getting a few broken noses in high school scraps. A bit dramatic perhaps, but that aptly sizes up the pre-Christmas mood this week among some Morris County Republicans.
After a very uplifting 2021 election, Morris Republicans were anticipating more good news in 2022 – like maybe a “return to form.” That would be Republicans winning local congressional seats, something they did practically in their sleep until 2018.
GOP enthusiasm was symbolized by a roster of CD-11 candidates that began surfacing last year and now has reached eight.
Then came Wednesday’s unveiling of new district maps.
CD-11, which is the central Morris district and one represented for more than two decades by Rodney Frelinghuysen, whose family was around when the country was founded, just became more Democratic. Republican areas like Sussex County have disappeared from the district and strong Democratic towns like Dover, Millburn, Maplewood and South Orange have been added.
That’s what Casha, one of the announced candidates, likened to a punch in the face.
Tayfun Selen, another candidate, called the map “extreme,” but like Casha, said he plans to stay in the race.
Then there’s Phil Rizzo, who ran last year for governor, losing in the primary. He’s now eyeing the CD-11 House seat.
And by the tone of a statement he sent out, he’s emboldened by the new map.
“I’m a fighter. I don’t shy away from challenges,” Rizzo said. “I lean in. “That’s the New Jersey spirit.”
Laura Ali, the county’s Republican chair, took note of Redistricting Commission Chair John Wallace saying he picked the Democratic map simply because the Republican proposed map was selected after the 2010 Census.
In a creative Facebook post, Ali congratulated all Republicans who plan to run for the state Assembly and Senate through 2030. Now that a precedent has been set, they should all be running under a Republican map, she said. And winning.
Her reasoning is that the Democrats’ legislative district map was chosen 10 years ago, so following Wallace’s lead, the Republican-presented map should be picked this time around. That map figures to be decided early next year and will take effect in the fall of 2023.
Ali’s take is humorous, but there’s no guarantee it will happen that way.
Ali acknowledged the new CD-11 map favors the Dems, but still pledged a strong GOP effort next fall against incumbent Mikie Sherrill.
Morris County Democrats, naturally, had somewhat of a different take.
Chair Chip Robinson said in a missive to party members that CD-11 has moved south and east, thereby making the district more Democratic.
However, Robinson was not pleased that CD-7, which covers western Morris, has become more Republican. That’s bad news for incumbent Tom Malinowski.
Some of the Democratic gains in Sherrill’s district were at the expense of Malinowski’s CD-7.
Robinson said regardless of what the maps look like, the objective of re-electing Sherrill and Malinowski is the same.
As for Sherrill, she sent out a cut and dry statement that avoided any commentary on her district becoming more Democratic.
“Since I first took the oath of office, I have worked to serve all residents in the 11th District. That commitment to the people of the district, both current and new, remains the same. Our mission is to make New Jersey more affordable, to strengthen our democracy, and to build a better future for our state. I am incredibly excited to continue our work and deliver for North Jersey.”