Amid political junkie grumbling over lack of competitive races this year, tiebreaking 13th legislative redistricting member Dr. Alan Rosenthal said he tried to wrangle a more competitive map but could not get there in what amounted to his own frustrating conclusion.
“I was looking for a map that was reasonably competitive and fair, recognizing that it’s a Democratic state – despite (Gov. Chris) Christie’s victories,” Rosenthal told PolitickerNJ.com.
Republicans wanted a more competitive map to give themselves a better shot at more victories against majority Democrats in the Legislature.
“I share my part of the blame (for not getting a more competitive map),” the political scientist said.
But both sides were locked into their partisan demarcations.
“At one point I tried to make an attempt to make a map of my own,” Rosenthal said. “I took a Democratic map submission and turned it around. I wanted Republicans to tell me how to change it.
“They didn’t want to play that game,” the professor added. “I tried to negotiate a map and Republicans refused to do that. So I had to pick one map, and I did.”
He selected the Democrats’ submission.
“I’m sorry it’s not more exciting for you, but that was hardly on my mind when I was looking at the maps,” Rosenthal told PolitickerNJ.com.
Asked about Christie’s much reported on-site presence with the Republican team during the closing days of the process, the retired tiebreaker said, “I think he was there to cheer on the Republican delegation and help them strategize.
“I don’t know if he was helpful to them but his conversations with me were helpful,” he added.
As agitated as he was by the outcome, Rosenthal said he still embraces New Jersey’s partisan redistricting process over a nonpartisan arrangement favored by a state like California.
New Jersey’s system more accurately reflects the public will of the times, he said.
“I think this is a pretty good system, for the parties are driving forces in American politics,” Rosenthal explained. “The irony is people are more critical of political parties than 20 years ago, and yet today they are more ideologically attached to one party than the other. Everybody is becoming more partisan.”