The Legislative Apportionment Commission, hunkering down in a Plainsboro hotel, is continuing to make progress towards a compromise map but has not yet come to a final deal, the New Jersey Globe has learned – and the chances of the deal collapsing will only increase as more about the map becomes known across the state.
The commission’s tiebreaker, Philip Carchman, strongly favors an agreement between the two party delegations, and has encouraged them to come together and draw a map that both sides find sufficiently unobjectionable. Any possibility of a deal has been delayed, however, by outcry from stakeholders upset with how their constituencies fare on the map.
In Hudson County, for instance, the commission has to draw at least one town into a non-Hudson based district, because the county by itself is slightly too large for three legislative districts. But Democratic officials in Harrison, one of the towns that may be drawn out, have decried such a move and will no doubt protest any map that puts their town in an Essex district. That’s just one example of the hundreds of constituencies the commissioners are trying to appease.
The longer the commission takes to finalize a map, the more pushback they will get from those unhappy with the results. With that in mind, the commissioners hope to finish drawing the map tonight and vote on it tomorrow, but there’s no guarantee a deal can be reached that quickly.
If tomorrow comes and goes without a vote, the commission may not be able to vote again until Tuesday, which gives angered incumbents an entire long weekend to sabotage the process. Commissioners will have to report back to their local stakeholders, who would have the time and opportunity to blow up the entire possibility of a deal.
That’s an intimidating prospect for both parties, because Carchman has given no indication on which of the two original map proposals he preferred. In the absence of a deal, each party would have to hope that Carchman chooses their map – and prepare for disaster if Carchman decides he likes the other party’s map better.
As reported earlier today, among the major changes potentially made by the deal map are putting State Sens. Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen) and Brian Stack (D-Union City) into one district and combining State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair)’s district with that of former Gov. Richard Codey (D-Roseland); also possibly on the table is for Gill to be double-bunked with State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark).
Elsewhere in the state, much of the chaos caused by each party’s draft map will likely be undone on a deal map. The Democratic map’s annihilation of the competitive 8th district and retooling of Morris County, and the Republican map’s total redraw of Central Jersey, don’t seem like they would come to pass on a deal map.
But all of these possibilities are contingent on a deal map existing at all. And while both Carchman and the 10 partisan commissioners all hope one will be possible, they’re not there yet.