Democratic County Chairs from Morris, Ocean, Sussex and Warren counties have joined Hudson Coutny Democratic Chairwoman Amy DeGise and Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer in opposing the redistricting constitutional amendment being pushed by Democratic leaders in the state’s legislature.
“This redistricting plan is being fast-tracked through the legislature with little to no public input and near universal opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, as well as leading news outlets, academics and activist organizations,” the four chairs said. “We see no reason why this plan to amend the state constitution should be pushed through now, especially at a time when Democrats are only a month removed from historic victories throughout the state.”
The amendment would impose a fairness formula on the state’s redistricting process for legislative districts. It would require that at least a quarter of the state’s 40 legislative districts have vote margins that fall within 5% of the average of statewide elections over the 10 years preceding reapportionment.
The measure would also reduce the number of picks made to the redistricting commission party state chairs make from six to two, giving two picks to two legislative leaders from both parties.
Morris County Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson, Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp, Sussex County Democratic Chairwoman Leslie Huhn and Warren County Democratic Chairman Tom Palmieri all represent counties that saw competitive House races in 2018.
If the constitutional amendment passes, it’s possible that backlash could help reverse those gains, particularly in districts like the seventh and third, where House races were particularly close.
“As Democratic County Chairs, we call on the State Legislature to abandon this proposal and focus on working with Governor Murphy to move the state forward,” the Morris, Ocean, Sussex and Warren chairs said.
Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark, who is Parsippany administrator and something of a player in North Jersey, threw in his opposition to the amendment.
“The proposed Constitutional amendment claims to enact a ‘fairness formula’ on the state’s legislative redistricting process, but rather it is a direct attempt to further gerrymander districts throughout New Jersey,” Kazmark said. “The amendment is bad government, bad for our democracy and steals a play from other State’s political playbooks aiming to control legislative seats through the redistricting process.”