Carroll says he’d challenge Codey in competitive Essex/Morris district

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) says he would run against Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland) in 2011 if legislative mapmakers drew a competitive district that included both of their towns.

“It would be an interesting question to see whether a Democrat who favors large government would appeal to Morris County voters more, or whether a Republican who favors small government would appeal to Essex County voters,” said Carroll.

The idea of creating that district, of course, is far fetched. But Carroll, who sits in a safely Republican district, says he hopes the next Legislative Apportionment Commission will create as many competitive legislative districts as possible – including his own.

The chairmen of the state’s two major political parties each appoint five members to the commission, while the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court appoints the crucial 11th member. That tie-breaking member will determine whether the state will continue to have a huge majority of safe districts for each party, or whether maps should be redrawn to create districts where both parties have a shot to win.

As of today, there are only a few of the state’s 40 districts that have relatively equal party registration, and Republicans and Democrats only share representation in three.

“If Stu Rabner appointed me to be the guy who drew the districts, I would draw districts that both parties hated, because I would try to draw as many competitive districts as possible,” said Carroll. “I wouldn’t take consideration of incumbency. The only thing I would take consideration of is you don’t want to divide up communities.”

Click here to look at a hypothetical Essex/Morris legislative district that produced a 50.2%-49.8% result in 2007 State Senate elections.

Carroll says he’d challenge Codey in competitive Essex/Morris district