Given the opportunity to answer questions from an audience Thursday night at an event sponsored by African-American ministers from Passaic and Bergen counties, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) charged U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell’s (D-9) ally with redistricting commission backroom tactics designed to weaken Rothman and bolster Pascrell’s survival chances.
Now Pascrell is upset because Rothman wants to move and compete against him in a Democratic Primary rather than yield to the dimensions of a new map and has repeatedly charged the younger congressman with running from the real fight in the form of Tea Party standard-bearer U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5).
Rothman doesn’t sympathize, he said, as Pascrell didn’t seem to mind when Rothman looked like redistricted roadkill.
“I find it ironic that Bill Pascrell is so concerned with who will face Scott Garrett considering he went to great lengths to ensure a majority of his towns did not end up merged with Garrett’s 5th district,” Rothman spokesman Paul Swibinski said today on the heels of Rothman’s arguments Thursday night.
“Pascrell’s former chief of staff lobbied to serve on the state’s Congressional Redistricting Committee. Then he advocated for a gerrymandered map that cut a few targeted towns out of the 9th district in an attempt to move Steve Rothman into the 5th. This could easily be viewed as an attempt to rig the process and protect Pascrell’s own seat. This is the type of politics Pascrell has engaged in his entire career, wielding influence and power to benefit himself and his friends and supporters.”
When Rothman made the same charge Thursday night, one of the organizers reminded the competing congressmen that the forum was not a debate.
“This is not a debate,” Pascrell told Rothman, “But I can’t wait to debate you.”
The two men grappled over who’s better suited to serve a district that now includes three big anchor Passaic County towns (Paterson, Passaic and Clifton) and a majority chunk of Bergen County.
“My bags are not packed,” said Pascrell. “His bags are packed.”
A resident of Fair Lawn – sliced out of the new 9th District – Rothman intends to move back to the town where he once served as mayor: Englewood. He told the crowd last night that he is selling his “big house” and moving in ten days.