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Democratic members of the New Jersey Democratic Redistricting Commission, clockwise from top left: Iris Delgado, Janice Fuller, Vin Gopal, Dana Redd, Jeff Nash and Stephanie Lagos.

Democrats name their six Congressional Redistricting Commission members

For the first time, the panel that draws N.J. House districts will have a female majority

By David Wildstein, June 15 2021 10:00 am

There will be a majority of women on a bi-partisan panel drawing twelve New Jersey House districts for the 2022 mid-term elections, with Democrats naming four women to six seats on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission.

The new appointees are expected to be filed later today: Iris Delgado, the executive director of the Middlesex County Democratic organization; Janice Campbell Fuller, a former chief of staff to House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone; State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch); Stephanie Lagos, the chief of staff to First Lady Tammy Murphy; Camden County Commissioner Jeff Nash; Dana Redd, a former state senator and Camden mayor, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

With a 7-5 female majority – the first in state history — the panel will also include representatives from the Black, Latina and South Asian communities and two millennials.

Fuller and Lagos are being named by Democratic State Chairman John Currie, but the picks were made by Gov. Phil Murphy, the titular head of the party.  Nash and Redd were selected by Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Delgado and Gopal were chosen by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

As a fast-growing state, New Jersey deserves strong and capable representation in Washington over the next decade,” Murphy said. “I applaud Chairman Currie, Senate President Sweeney, and Speaker Coughlin for selecting a talented and diverse group of individuals to help create new congressional districts that reflect the complexity of our great state. I know these appointees understand the long-term significance of their work and will approach their job with the hard work and attention it deserves.”

The drawing of New Jersey’s House districts will begin later this summer, after the U.S. Census Bureau transmits exact population numbers of the state’s municipalities.  Final census tract numbers might not come until September.

The final map is due by January 18 of next year.

Fuller will serve as Democratic commission chair.

Murphys’ chief of staff, George Helmy, is expected to play a major role on the Democratic side.

This is Redd’s second time on a congressional redistricting panel.  She served on the commission that drew congressional districts after the 2000 Census.

Gopal is a former Monmouth County Democratic Chairman.  He defeated three-term Republican State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) in 2017 and is seeking re-election to his second term this fall. Gopal will become the first South Asian American to serve on a redistricting commission.

Delgado is a political data and targeting expert who worked for the SEIU and on campaigns in 16 states and as head of the Victory 2017 Democratic Coordinated Campaign before becoming executive director of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization.

Nash began his political career in 1989 when he won a Cherry Hill Township Council seat at age 31.  He was elected freeholder in 1991.

An Ocean Township school board member, Fuller spent ten years on Pallone’s staff.  She also served as director of cabinet affairs under Gov. Jon Corine and executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee during the governorships of James E. McGreevey and Richard Codey.  Fuller became president of New Jersey OceanGrid, an offshore wind company owned by Anbaric, in 2019.

Lagos has served as the First Lady’s top aide since 2018.  She served as a senior policy advisor to the Murphy for governor campaign and is a former deputy chief of staff and legislative director to Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic).  Lagos is a U.S. Peace Corps veteran.

“These are highly-skilled individuals who will work as a team of Democrats to draw the congressional districts for the pivotal 2022 election and the following election cycles,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.  “I have confidence in their ability to ensure strong and fair representation for New Jersey in the halls of Congress.”

Coughlin said that “an equitable redrawing of our congressional district map is critical for our state.”

“I have every confidence the Democratic appointees named today will work diligently and fairly so the diverse voices of New Jersey can be reflected by our representation in Congress,” the Speaker said.

Currie said that the commission will work to “provide fair and varied federal representation.

“Our six Democratic appointments will strive to meet the highest standards of fairness, objectivity, and impartiality as they work closely with their Republican counterparts to craft new congressional districts and give New Jersey the strong representation it deserves at the federal level,” said Currie.

Republicans named their six commissioners in May: former Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt and GOP State Committee Vice Chair Lynda Pagliughi, appointed by outgoing GOP State Chairman Michael Lavery; Westfield Councilman Mark LoGrippo and former Christie administration office Jeanne Dovgala Ashmore, named by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr.; and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s picks: Assembly Minority Executive Director Mark Duffy and Michele Albano, a Republican fundraiser.

Lavery doesn’t leave office until next week and the deadline to name the candidates is today.

Harrison Neely, a longtime advisor to Kean and Steinhardt, will serve as executive director of the Republican side.

Kean is widely expected to seek a rematch against Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in 2022.  He came within one point of unseating him last year.

A tie-breaker would be appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

This story was updated at 5:26 PM with comment from Murphy, Sweeney, Coughlin and Currie. 

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