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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Murphy opposes redistricting amendment

By Nikita Biryukov, November 26 2018 12:44 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t backing legislative Democrats’ attempt to change the state’s redistricting process through a constitutional amendment

“I’m not a buyer of it,” Murphy said when asked about the amendment at an unrelated press conference Monday.

The measure has been viewed by observers as an attack meant to reduce the power Democratic State Chairman John Currie, a close Murphy ally.

Currently, each party state chair appoints half of the 12-member redistricting board. The amendment would reduce that number to who, allowing the Senate president, Assembly speaker and minority leaders in both houses the ability to pick two members each.

Despite that, Murphy said he did not see the move as an attack on Currie or himself.

“I have a very thick skin. I see it mostly, if not entirely, through the lens of what’s right for good for democracy, good democratic habits in this case — and again that’s small ‘d’ democratic habits in this case,” Murphy said. “I don’t think it meets that test.”

The greater share of criticism the amendment has drawn relates to the definition of fairness it would impose on redistricting. The measure would consider party performance in past statewide elections, including those for Governor and U.S. Senate, when deciding the definition of a competitive legislative district.

New Jersey Republicans have not sent a anyone to the U.S. Senate since 1972, so the advantage there is obvious, and non-partisan observers have honed in on the proposed change when making their criticisms.

Though he would not say which specific portions of the amendment he disagreed with, it appears Murphy agrees with those critics.

“I’m a proud Democrat, let me say that number one,” Murphy said. “But I also want to be a believer in Democracy and opening up Democracy and transparency and good processes in government in getting to the right solutions, and I don’t think this meets those tests.”

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