Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal hosted the first two private meetings this week with members of each party’s redistricting team to begin discussions on how the effort will proceed.
As reported by PolitickerNJ in December, Rosenthal is the presumptive 11th member of the commission, but his selection will not be formalized until March 3, when the two sides would need to declare an impasse if a compromise on the legislative map has not been reached.
According to souces, this is the first time Rosenthal has engaged the commission.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner is due to name Rosenthal after the Rutgers professor and legislative expert’s name appeared on lists of acceptable candidates for the tie-breaker spot provided to the chief justice by both parties.
Once Rosenthal is officially named, the commission has one month to come up with a map of the state’s 40 legislative districts.
Each side has been hard at work creating maps that would give them the best chance to control the legislature. Republicans have focused much of their attention on the rise in the state’s Latino population and will likely seek to create several so-called majority minority districts where Latinos make up more than 50 percent of the district’s population.
Democrats have argued that packing minorities into fewer districts would actually diminish their voting clout and have advocated for “unpacked” districts where the minority population is spread into several districts, providing the opportunity for representation in as many districts as possible.