NJ Politics Digest: Democrats Back Off Unpopular Redistricting Plan

Senator Cory Booker.
Senator Cory Booker. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Several Democratic legislative leaders pulled the plug on their plan to change how New Jersey draws its state legislative district lines, bowing to intense criticism from across the political spectrum.

On Saturday State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin released statements saying there would be no legislative vote to put the plan before voters.

The announcement came days after the plan received a firestorm of criticism during hearings by the state Assembly and Senate, with liberal groups that normally ally with Democrats joining with Republicans to protest the proposal as a scheme to make it easier to gerrymander electoral maps. On Saturday, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg weighed in, saying in a radio report that the plan as written managed to offend just about everyone.

In his statement, Sweeney said delaying the vote would “give us the time and opportunity to review the input we have received from the public, our legislative colleagues and others to determine if any of these ideas would improve the proposal.”

In his statement, Coughlin said he wanted “to integrate some of the valuable input received to help create a better measure and improve the redistricting process overall.”

Delaying the vote means the legislature won’t consider it this year, making it nearly impossible for it to appear on the November ballot. Under state law, to appear on the ballot, constitutional amendments must be approved by three-fifths of the legislature or be approved by a simple majority two years in a row.

Sweeney and Coughlin had hoped to have the plan approved by the Democratic majority Monday and then again early in 2019.

The plan, as proposed, was widely seen as giving legislative leaders too much say over who is appointed to the state legislative redistricting commission.

Quote of the Day: “There’s something in this bill to affront almost everybody. That’s not always easy to do. But, apparently, that’s what we managed to do.” — New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.

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NJ Politics Digest: Democrats Back Off Unpopular Redistricting Plan