There will be no deal between Republicans and Democrats on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission, setting up a possible, if not likely, vote on a map on Wednesday.
That means a vote between the two maps, with former state Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace acting as the tiebreaker.
Wallace has set up a sort of Prisoner’s Dilemma, keeping the two parties in separate rooms as he offered feedback on their proposals without ever allowing the two parties to exchange maps.
The two redistricting chairs, Republican Doug Steinhardt and Democrat Janice Fuller, met privately on Monday, the New Jersey Globe has learned, but have no agreement. To be clear, there has been no offer of a deal.
Republicans are targeting Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in the 7th district but want to remain competitive in races to unseat three other Democratic incumbents: Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair). Democrats might be willing to give up Malinowski, but they don’t want to fight on multiple fronts in President Joe Biden’s mid-term election.
Infighting between two South Jersey Democrats and the other four Democratic commissioners in a bid strengthen the 1st district seat of Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) at the expense of other Democratic incumbents, had led to the possibility of a deal.
South Jersey had wanted to peel off parts of Burlington County and shed portions of Gloucester, which would have shifted to Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) in the 2nd district. That led to internal conflicts between Senate President Steve Sweeney and two commissioners he picked, Camden County Commissioner Jeff Nash and former Camden Mayor Dana Redd. Sweeney doesn’t want Van Drew heading the ticket in Gloucester in a year when county government could flip to the GOP.
After some maneuvering, Nash and Redd accepted the Democratic map.
Wallace has still not released the two maps to the public.
The two parties, along with their staffs and lawyers, spent four days at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill last week meeting with Wallace and his advisors, but except for one quick session, not with each other. They went home on Saturday night after submitting their best and final offers.