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Former Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. (Photo: Brown & Connery).

Democrats win congressional redistricting fight

Malinowski in trouble, but Kim, Gottheimer and Sherrill in good shape

By David Wildstein, December 22 2021 9:29 am

The tiebreaker on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission, former Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr., has picked the Democratic map, setting up a tough race for Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in New Jersey’s 7th district but puts Democratic Reps. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown),  Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in good shape to win re-election.

Kim and 21-term Republican Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) are now in the same district, but Smith is expected to move into the new 4th, which includes municipalities he’s represented for decades.

The Democratic map removes all of Ocean County from Kim’s district and creates one that includes all of Burlington, except for Palmyra and Maple Shade, and parts of Mercer and Monmouth.  Kim would add all of Hamilton, Lawrence, East Windsor, Hightstown, and Robbinsville in Mercer, and Allentown, Englishtown, Freehold Borough, Holmdel, Manalapan, Marlboro, Millstone, Roosevelt, and parts of Marlboro and Freehold Township.

This turns a tightly contested district – Trump won it by 0.2 points in 2020 – into a Democratic blowout that Biden won by around 14 points. This also technically double-bunks Kim and Rep. Chris Smith, who lives in Hamilton Township, but Smith will have a solid Republican Ocean County district to run in instead.

Under the Democratic plan, Malinowski’s new 7th district will pick up all of Warren County, and Mendham Borough and part of Mendham Township in Morris.  Scotch Plains, which had been split with the 12th, would sit entirely in the 7th, along with the addition of Fanwood and Rahway and part of Linden.  Bridgewater and Hillsborough would be split between the 7th and 12th districts.  The 7th adds nine towns in Sussex: Andover Township, Byram, Fredon, Green, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta, Stillwater and Walpack.  Millburn in Essex and Dover in Morris would shift to the 11th, Cranford, Garwood, Kenilworth and the entirety of Union Township in Union would go in the 10th, and Montgomery, North Plainfield, Rocky Hill in Somerset would go to the 12th.

Malinowski gets a more difficult, but not unwinnable, district by taking in all of Warren County and parts of Sussex County while losing Democratic towns in the east like Millburn. But he’s not DOA.  This map’s 7th district is Biden +4, compared to Biden +10 currently; in other words, Malinowski is probably an underdog in 2022, but it’s sure to be a competitive race both next cycle and in cycles after that.

The new 3rd removes all of Ocean County from Kim’s district and creates one that includes all of Burlington, except for Palmyra and Maple Shade, and parts of Mercer and Monmouth.  Kim would add all of Hamilton, Lawrence, East Windsor, Hightstown, and Robbinsville in Mercer, and Allentown, Englishtown, Freehold Borough, Holmdel, Manalapan, Marlboro, Millstone, Roosevelt, and parts of Marlboro and Freehold Township.

In Gottheimer’s 5th, Democrats added of eight Bergen County towns: Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Cresskill, Fort Lee, Leonia, Palisades Park, Ridgefield Park and Tenafly to Gottheimer’s districts, as well as the entirety of Teaneck, including the portions currently in the 9th.    But the 5th will also lose Franklin Lakes, Lodi, Oakland, Rochelle Park and part of Maywood.  Gottheimer’s district would no longer include any Warren County municipalities and the deletion of six Sussex towns –Andover Borough, Fredon, Green, Stillwater and Walpack.  All of those would shift to the 7th.  The 5th would keep West Milford and add Bloomindale and Wanaque in Passaic.

Gottheimer, a three-term incumbent with more than $11 million in the bank, loses Warren County and shifts to be a more Bergen County-dominated district, gaining heavily Democratic municipalities like Fort Lee and Englewood. This pushes Biden’s 2020 margin to around 12 points, up from Biden+6 currently.

Sherrill gains Belleville, Glen Ridge, Maplewood, Millburn, and South Orange in Essex, and Dover in Morris.  Caldwell, Essex Fells, Verona, and all of West Orange would move to the 10th district, and her four Sussex County municipalities would shift to the 5th and 7th districts.  Sherill will also shed Bloomingdale, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes and part of Wayne.

The 11th gains Essex County towns like Maplewood, Millburn, and Belleville while losing Republican parts of Sussex and Passaic Counties, pushing Biden’s 2020 margin to nearly 15 points, up from 7 now.

The Democratic map takes a pass on Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 put later switched parties and won as a Republican in 2020.  Democrats proposed bolstering Van Drew in order to shore up Kim.

The new map splits 16 municipalities: Berkeley (2 & 4), Bridgewater (7 & 12), East Greenwich (1 & 2), Freehold Township (3 & 4), Hillsborough (7 & 12), Jersey City (8 & 10), Kearny (8 & 9), Lacey (2 & 4), Linden (7 & 10), Maywood (5 & 9), Mendham Township (7 & 11), Montclair (10 & 11), Newark (8 &10), Old Bridge (6 & 12) and Wayne (9 & 11).

New Jersey Congressional Map

Editor’s note: some of the numbers are estimates.  It’s still not clear how exactly the map’s split towns as divided.

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