New Jersey might lose one of its thirteen House seats after the 2010 census is completed; new districts will be drawn by a bi-partisan six-member commission in time for the 2012 elections. The Democratic and Republican State Chairs will each appoint two members, and the Senate President, the Senate Minority Leader, the Assembly Speaker, and the Assembly Minority Leader will each appoint two members. Several legal experts told PolitickerNJ.com that Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland) could appoint two congressional redistricting commissioners before the end of his current term. The law requires members of the congressional redistricting commission to be appointed by June 15, 2011, but does not specific how early an appointment could be made. Sources close to Codey would not say if this is something the Essex County Democrat might consider.
If Codey does this, watch Stephen Sweeney head right to court. But there is some precedent here: Kathleen Donovan appointed the Republican members of the legislative redistricting commission in 1990, just before Bob Franks defeated him in a contested race for GOP State Chair.
One Republican leader suggested that Codey could save his job if a deal with GOP Senators included Republican control of congressional redistricting. That scenario is highly unlikely, although even the mere possibility of such an accord would have to frighten several Democratic Congressman.