Tracking the lineage of New Jersey’s 11th district House seat, up for grabs this fall now that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) is retiring after 24 years, is complicated.
The current district has been Republican since 1984, when a panel of federal judges invalidated the 1982 map and ordered a new one instead. That took an Essex County-based district that included parts of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties that eleven-term Rep. Joseph Minish (D-West Orange) had won with 64% and shifted it west into Morris, Sussex and Warren counties. Minish’s percentage dropped to 44% and Assembly Minority Leader Dean Gallo (R-Parsippany) won the seat.
New Jersey had lost a congressional seat following the 1980 census (the delegation went from 15 to 14), and the seat that got eliminated in 1982 was the Somerset-Morris seat of Millicent Fenwick (R-Bernardsville), who left the House to run for the U.S. Senate. That seat, the old 5th, had been held for 22 years by Peter Frelinghuysen (R-Harding), Fenwick succeeded him in 1974.
Minish represented the Essex part of the 11th from 1962 to 1984. He had won the open seat of Hugh Addonizio, who left after seven terms to become the mayor of Newark. Over time, Minish’s district took on parts of other districts: the old 12th, which had been held by Republican Robert Kean (R-Livingston) from 1939 to 1959, Republican George Wallhauser (R-Maplewood) from 1959 to 1965, and Democrat Paul Krebs (D-Livingston) from 1965 to 1967, eventually became parts of the 11th.
For extreme political junkies: the last time Essex County was represented only by Democrats was in 1966, when Krebs’ district was eliminated in redistricting. Rep. Florence Dwyer (R-Elizabeth) had her district adjusted to include part of Essex; after the 1970 census, Peter Frelinghuysen and Fenwick represented part of Essex. A win by Mikie Sherrill and Tom Malinowski in November would return Essex to an all-Democratic congressional delegation for the first time in 62 years.
And if Sherrill and Malinowski win, it would be the first time Morris County was without a Republican representation in Congress since Montville businessman John Capstick unseated two-term Democratic Rep. William Tuttle in 1914.