A tired but very gratified New Jersey Legislative Apportionment Commission this afternoon finalized a deal for an incumbent-safety-first map for the next decade, acknowledging some unfortunate hits a few longtime incumbents will suffer, but referring to core virtues attained in a civil bipartisan outcome: a history-making completely bipartisan product.
Unlike past redistricting processes, no single side – Republican or Democrat – could claim total victory, or hang heads in complete defeat.
The map passed 9-2, with members Tom Kean, Jr. (a Republican) and Cosmo Cirilo (a Democrat) voting no on the 11-member commission.
Kean is a longtime intraparty enemy of the Kevin O’Toole-Al Barlas wing of his party (he once put down an attempt by O’Toole to challenge him for the senate minority seat), while Cirillo opposed the map, presumably on the grounds of it making a casualty out of state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32).
Everyone else appeared happy with an affirmative vote for the map (below).
“You were the right person for this job,” Republican Apportionment Commission Co-Chair Al Barlas told 11th tiebreaking member Philip Carchman.
“We leave here knowing what can be accomplished when we simply work together,” said Co-Chair LeRoy Jones (pictured, above). “Different parties, but the same fight.”
“We achieved that goal,” Carchman said of a fair map. “The commission was blessed with two extraordinary co-chairs. These two gentleman are strong and fierce advocates for their respective positions.”
The tiebreaker said the commission wanted to leave a map for the next ten years.
“There are people complaining, and the question always comes up ‘Is the map perfect?’ No, it is not perfect, because there is no perfect map anywhere,” he said. “We will have critics focusing on this map and how it affects the next election. But we didn’t design a map for the next election, but for the next decade.”
He ticked off some achievements as part of this year’s redistricting process, including a record number of public hearings, a record number of new districts that “provide opportunities not seen before,” the first bipartisan map in New Jersey apportionment history (neither a Republican nor Democratic map ‘won’), and a map that achieves overall balance.