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Tiebreaker Picks GOP Map For NJ House Seats

Kevin McArdle - Townsquare Statehouse Correspondent

A tie-breaking member of the state’s redistricting commission has chosen a new congressional map that favors Republicans, two people told The Associated Press on Friday.The two people involved in redistricting said the map combines northern New Jersey districts now represented by conservative Republican Scott Garrett and liberal Democrat Steve Rothman. The map gives the GOP an edge of 4 percentage points in voter registration in the merged district, the two said.

They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the commission.

The panel’s chairman, John Farmer Jr., the tiebreaking 13th member, told both sides of his choice in phone calls early Friday, following four days of secret negotiations in a New Brunswick hotel.

A formal vote will be taken when the 13-member commission meets at 10 a.m. in Trenton. Additional details on the reconfigured districts will be released then.

New Jersey’s congressional delegation is losing a seat because of population changes. The delegation, now represented by seven Democrats and six Republicans, will go from 13 to 12 members after November.

A GOP map means an uphill fight for Rothman, one of the first to endorse Barack Obama for president in 2008. Garrett is the 19th-most conservative member of Congress, according to the National Journal, while Rothman is the 83rd-most liberal.

Both have at least $1.5 million in their federal campaign accounts.

Democrats on the commission submitted a final map to Farmer on Thursday calling for the new district to be split evenly between Republican and Democratic voters. Republicans’ proposal favored Garrett and the GOP.

All the districts will change somewhat with the new map, though none as dramatically as the now-combined 5th and 9th. Each will gain population; the new districts will each contain 732,000 residents.

The districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population changes recorded in the census. New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are also losing seats, while Florida and Texas are gaining representatives.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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