The consensus choice by Republican and Democratic members to be the 13th member of the congressional redistricting commission is John Farmer, Jr., former attorney general and counsel to the 911 commission.
Farmer is the dean of the Rutgers University Law School.
He served as assistant counsel, deputy chief counsel and chief counsel for Governor Christine Todd Whitman before becoming her attorney general in 1999 on a 39-0 vote by the state senate.
He served as AG until 2002.
According to his profile on the Rutgers Law School website, Farmer argued school funding and criminal justice matters before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals; moved forward with reform of the New Jersey State Police, from eliminating racial profiling to increasing diversity in recruitment and promotion; created the Office of Inspector General to investigate allegations of official impropriety and/or corruption; and served as the first chairman of the New Jersey Domestic Preparedness Task Force, leading the coordination of the state’s law enforcement and victim/witness response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Farmer served as counsel to Dr. Alan Rosenthal during legislative redistricting earlier this year.
“It’s an interesting choice,” Patrick Murray, pollster and political scientist at Monmouth University, said of Farmer.
“The same folks involved in legislative redistricting through their conversations with him individually must have felt comfortable. Apparently the GOP don’t think he bought into Rosenthal’s principles.”
Democrats, for the record, won the legislative map.
“There was no way the Republicans were going to allow Rosenthal back,” said Dr. Brigid Harrison, political scientist from Montclair State University.
Unlike Rosenthal, an academic who wrote extensively on the subject of redistricting and politics, Farmer arrives at the 13th member’s seat from a different angle.
“This is a job constrained by political realities, but unlike legislative redistricting, there’s just one seat that will be lost and presumably the microlevel analysis won’t be necessary,” Harrison said.