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

Murphy not yet whipping against redistricting amendment

By Nikita Biryukov, November 26 2018 1:06 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy hasn’t started whipping votes against a constitutional amendment pushed by legislative leaders that would tilt the state’s redistricting process in Democrats’ favor.

“I’ve not spoken to anybody who’s going to cast a vote one way or the other on that,” Murphy said at an unrelated press conference Friday. “That’s not to say we wouldn’t. We’re going to make our positions known as we digest this.”

Murphy on Monday said he opposed the measure, which has been seen by some as an attack on Murphy ally and Democratic State Chairman John Currie by reducing the number of seats he gets to fill on the 12-member redistricting board from six to two.

Though would not say which portions of the amendment he had problems with, most of Murphy’s criticisms focused on the how the measure would impact the fairness of New Jersey’s elections.

The measure would make party performance in past statewide elections, including those for Governor and U.S. Senate, a factor in deciding what a competitive legislative district is. New Jersey Republicans haven’t won an election for U.S. Senate since 1972, so it’s no secret which party the new definition would favor.

Murphy also criticized legislative leaders’ attempts to fast-track the amendment through at the end of the year to guarantee it ends up on the ballot next year.

The measure was introduced early last week and is being voted on in committee later on Monday. Should it pass, the amendment is expected to see a full vote next month.

It’s unlikely the amendment will reach the three-fifths threshold it needs in both chambers to pass outright, but if the amendment passes with a simple majority two years running, the question goes on the ballot and voters decide its fate directly.

“This just popped up,” Murphy said. “Again, in the good government realm, this popped up the day before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way, everyone. Then quick all of a sudden, we’ve got to get this done in December, and then we’ve got to vote on it again in January.”

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