Redistricting 2011: How to save Karcher or Beck

The most hotly contested district in the state this fall is the 12th, once solidly-Republican but now represented by Democrats in both houses after an ethics scandal toppled Co-Senate President John Bennett four years ago. If Democrat Ellen Karcher wins re-election to the Senate, watch Democrats on the '11 Redistricting Commission to look at strengthening the D's hold on the seat. And if Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck unseats Karcher, watch for GOP mapmakers to look at unloading some Democratic parts of the district next time around.

So, just for fun, PoliticsNJ.com has drawn four new 12th's that could, hypothetically, make the seaf safe for either Karcher or Beck. For these maps, we have used the U.S. Census Bureau's Estimates of Resident Population by Municipality from 2006, which shows trends of population changes in the state. In 2001, the ideal legislative district was 210,359. According to current estimates, every district would grow to 218,114.

Redistricting is just four years away; the fall ’07 election will be the last time the Senate runs in their current districts. Population growth in New Jersey slightly favors Republicans, but redistricting success comes with considerable planning and strategy – an area where Democrats easily prevailed in 2001.

During the slow summer months, we’ll offer other ideas for legislative redistricting. As always, we encourage our readers to comment, and to draw their own maps.

PLAN A: THE KARCHER DISTRICT

Marlboro, Englishtown, Manalapan, Colts Neck, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Red Bank, Fair Haven, Monroe, Cranbury, Jamesburg, Plainsboro, East Windsor and Hightstown.

Population: 221,899

Incumbents: Karcher, Panter, Beck, Greenstein

PLAN B: THE BECK DISTRICT

Red Bank, Rumson, Little Silver, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls, Colts Neck, Howell, Farmingdale, Fair Haven, Holmdel, Manalapan, Englishtown, Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, Upper Freehold, Roosevelt, Allentown, Millstone, Oceanport, Washington Township

Population: 219,081

Incumbemnts: Beck, Panter, Corodemus

Redistricting 2011: How to save Karcher or Beck