In response to state Democratic Party chair LeRoy Jones Jr.’s removal of former Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) from the Legislative Apportionment Commission last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said today that he has confidence in Jones and his fellow commissioners.
“No comment on the redistricting process, other than I have complete faith in Chairman Jones to take the entirety of the state into consideration,” Murphy said.
Jones removed Sweeney over fears that he might work against Democrats on the commission, as South Jersey Democrats reportedly did on the Congressional Redistricting Commission. Sweeney quickly filed a lawsuit to regain his spot, arguing that Jones did not have the authority to remove him at will and that the commission needed South Jersey Democratic representation, but a Superior Court judge rejected his request for an emergency injunction.
With Pinelands Commission Chair Laura Matos now serving as its fifth Democratic member, the commission plans to release two draft maps, one Democratic and one Republican, next Monday for public comment.
The trio of Murphy, Jones, and Sweeney has a tangled history. In 2019, when Jones challenged then-state party chair John Currie for the leadership role, Sweeney was in Jones’ corner while Murphy backed Currie – but with Sweeney’s unexpected general election loss last year, the political calculus has since drastically changed.