State Sen. Bob Smith thinks it’s time for Middlesex County to get its own congressional district.
“It’s 875,000 people. Congressional districts are bout 640,000, 630,000. It could easily be a congressional district,” Smith said. “Now, when I say that, it gets Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Crazy. It probably gets Pallone crazy, but nothing against them because they’re both two fabulous congresspeople.”
Smith ran against Rep. Frank Pallone in a 1992 primary after district’s lines were redrawn and Rep. Bernard Dwyer retired after six terms. Pallone defeated him 55%-37%.
Middlesex County is currently split between the sixth and 12th congressional districts, but it has grown in population and political force since those lines were drawn in 1991.
The state’s population grew by about 14% between 1992 and 2017. Middlesex County’s population jumped by roughly 23% over that same period.
But given the district’s current representation, Smith wasn’t too in calling for the county to get a congressional district all to itself.
“I think Middlesex should have its own congressional district. always have. The population justifies it. There’s a community of interest, common interest,” Smith said. “That being said, we have a great representation. So I can’t complain too much.”
A Middlesex-based district was drawn in 1962 after New Jersey picked up a 15th seat after the 1960 Census. Rep. Edward Patten, a former New Jersey Secretary of State and Perth Amboy mayor, held the seat until 1980, when Dwyer succeeded him.