Every redistricting cycle begins with a suspected casualty and ends with a casualty, and in this case the
two are very conceivably one in the same, as sources say U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7) appears slated for retirement on both the Democrats’ and Republicans’ final maps.
The Democratic map prioritizes 3, 5, and 11. Not 7.
The Republican map prioritizes 7 on behalf of Malinowski challenger Tom Kean, Jr. (especially, with the idea that it should withstand merely the back blow of 2022) and 2, at the very least.
On both parties’ maps, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2) gets stronger, an outcome that on the Democrats’ map simultaneously strengthens U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3). It is unclear whether Vineland would go to Kim and or whether the Burlington-based congressman would absorb more Mercer. (as it turned out, Kim got Mercer and Vineland stayed in Van Drew’s district).
On both maps, Malinowski looks more vulnerable next year than he did in 2020, when he pulled off reelection on the strength of numbers emerging from Democratic Party stronghold Millburn.
The augmentation of Democrats in CD-11 does not help Malinowski.
That said, South Jersey Democratic Party operatives late in the game tried to prevail on the commission to reconsider the map they submitted on Sunday, presumably in order to make U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1) and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) stronger than they are on what right now constitutes the Democrats’ final submission to tiebreaker, retired Judge John Wallace.
A late plan to empower Gottheimer beyond the tweaks already made to the map would weaken Sherrill, sources say, and that has created some late game intrigue. The congresswoman’s emerging stature as a statewide contender makes those bosses beyond her immediate vicinity more than a little jittery. North Jersey sources said if anyone messes with Sherrill’s district as constituted in the formally submitted, pre-South Jersey panic mode map, there would be hell to pay.
One source described the already weakened power of longtime power broker George Norcross once again in question heading into tomorrow’s scheduled meeting, as those South Jersey congressional commission members find themselves challenged internally to override the stall tactics supplied by Camden County Democrats.
“We’re not going to do better than a 9-3 map in this environment,” said a Democratic Party source, referring to the final product submitted Sunday to Wallace, which sources described as meeting many of the tiebreakers’ expectations for a fair map, even as Democrats nationwide anticipate casualties.
Finally, “It’s Sunday’s map,” a source said, with authority.