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Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Steinhardt may make redistricting appointments before year’s end

Currie says he’ll follow Republican’s lead

By Nikita Biryukov, October 16 2019 11:13 am

State Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt said he may appoint his members of the legislative redistricting commission before the end of the year.

“We’re actively talking now about putting a team together, and as soon as we have a team together that I think is viable and ready to start, we’ll roll it out,” Steinhardt told the New Jersey Globe. “Theoretically speaking, that could be tomorrow. Realistically speaking, that will not be, but is it conceivable that it’s before the end of the year? Yes.”

New Jersey’s Democratic and Republican state chairs each nominate five of the body’s 10 members. If those members can’t agree on the map — and they almost never can — the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court appoints a tiebreaker.

The timing of Steinhardt’s appointments could affect an intra-party feud over control of the Democratic state chairmanship.

Democratic State chair John Currie on Monday said he would follow Republicans’ lead on the timing of appointments.

He did not rule out appointing his half of the redistricting commission before the end of the year.

Currie is likely to face a challenge for the chairmanship from Essex County Chairman LeRoy Jones.

Making appointments to the commission before his term expires on Jan. 1, 2020, could shore up Gov. Phil Murphy’s influence on Democratic lawmakers in the state.

Such a move would likely face opposition from opponents of Currie, who is a close ally to the governor, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

In 2010, State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union), then an assemblyman and the outgoing Democratic state chair, appointed three members of the commission before ceding control of the state party to now-former Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville).

Still, both parties have a November election to worry about before they turn their focus to redistricting.

“I’ve got to be honest with you. We’re three weeks out from Nov. 5th. That is our first and only priority,” Steinhardt said. “When Wednesday rolls around, our attention will be turned to making sure that we’re ready to go on redistricting. Not to say we haven’t been contemplating it until now, but at this particular point, our only focus is getting through the legislative midterms.”

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