Civil Rights hero John Lewis is the first member of Congress to take sides in New Jersey's 9th District Democratic primary, endorsing Rep. Bill Pascrell.

The Georgia congressman refers to Pascrell as "my brother" in an endorsement letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Pascrell's being challenged by Rep. Steve Rothman in the newly configured district that contains parts of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties -- including many towns Rothman represents.

Many Democrats wanted Rothman to remain in the 5th District to challenge Scott Garrett, one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, in a new district that favors the Republican.

Rothman and Pascrell were elected in 1996. Lewis, who served with Pascrell on the Ways & Means Committee, was instrumental in the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and `60s.

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