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The Manhattans. (Photo: DeLuxe Records).

The O’Toole Chronicles: It’s a Wrap

By Kevin O'Toole, February 28 2022 12:01 am

Well, it’s a wrap. The legislative map is done.

Congratulations to all those who took part in this historic process. A special shout out to Chairmen Leroy Jones and Al Barlas. These two leaders did what others have tried and failed miserably to do (for decades) – arrive at a consensus legislative map.

Having served on the Commission in 2011, where we failed to reach a consensus and Republicans ultimately lost, I can attest to just how herculean an accomplishment this was. There is also no doubt that this would not have been achieved without all the Commissioners and staff working for months (years more likely) on this laborious constitutional process.

Special recognition needs to be given to Judge Philip Carchman and his staff, and to Chief Justice Rabner who selected Judge Carchman, for providing a fertile ground for a consensus to be reached.

Who knew Judge Carchman could succeed where all others failed miserably?

For those who don’t know him, you get a pass for this until Oct 7, 2021, but if you don’t know who he is now you should just quit the business. Judge Carchman is super smart and extraordinarily able. I remember him from back in the days when we sparred about spending at Dave Anderson’s AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) and he did his level best to protect the significant budget line items for salaries before the Budget Committee.

Now that the map is adopted, everyone has an opinion. Make no mistake this map will have years of rippling consequences and far-reaching aftershocks – some intended and some unforeseen.

We already witnessed the political earthquake in Hudson and some of us are watching with interest the unfolding drama in the newly drawn District 27.

Speaking from experience as someone who has endured a few primaries in their time, they aren’t fun, they require a lot of work, agility, energy, and determination. Not to mention you find out quickly who your friends are.

I remember my 2007 primary, being thrown off the line in Bergen and forming my own line to win the County. I still recall some of my political enemies, from both parties, rallying together to plot my demise. Again, not fun.

 When it comes to primaries, you can count your friends on one hand and prepare to go to war with that small group. Kiss your spouse and/or kids and tell your boss that you will see them all on primary night.

Understand that many in your party will turn their backs and walk away; even after decades of being your friend, supporter, running mate, etc.

There’s a lot in this map for everyone to digest and adapt to – some more so than others. It is ironic that as we talk about this map and primaries, given what we all believe is the root cause of the “Hudson situation,” it reminds me of The Manhattans (also started in Jersey City!) song Kiss and Say Goodbye:

This has got to be the saddest day of my life…
I called you here today for a bit of bad news…
I won’t be able to see you anymore…
Because of my obligations…
(I’m gonna miss you)…
Let’s just kiss…
And say goodbye.

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