By Tommy DeSeno
I think I need a political intervention. I’m apathetic. I can’t find a reason to vote next year in the midterm congressional races. Upon self-reflection I can’t decide if I’m enlightened or jaded. Or both. I just know I no longer care to cast a ballot.
I grew up schooled with the same civic lessons as the rest of America. Served to me in full measure was that good government is the result of the patriotic duty of voting and I swallowed it all.
I have been voting for more than 30 years and don’t recall having ever missed an opportunity to vote for a congressman.
Yet I’ve come to realize that I’ve been denied the opportunity to ever vote for a congressman.
Like elsewhere, the year after the census New Jersey gets redistricted. Some connected political sorts from both parties negotiate in a hotel and as best I can tell, decide how the parties will split the state’s congressional delegation for the next 10 years. Following that, the rest of us dutifully vote and pretend like it matters, doing nothing more than adding a façade of legitimacy to the literal backroom deal of the redistricting committee.
I lived for many years in what is now New Jersey’s 6th Congressional District (the number of the district has changed but the same suspect remains at-large).
The Congressman in NJ 6 is Democrat Frank Pallone, Jr. Pallone serves many Monmouth County residents. On the County level, Monmouth has been overwhelmingly a Republican county for decades. Pallone represents 28 Monmouth County towns and 9 from Middlesex County. However, Frank’s district has in it tentacles that grab certain neighborhoods (not even whole towns) from two other counties that are Democrat strongholds (and you can guess why).
In doing so the 6th district lumps together sleepy little shore towns in one county with industrial settings in another, creating a varied constituency where the people have little in common.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 29th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Congress, Congressional Redistricting, Tommy DeSeno | Tags: Congressional Redistricting, gerrymandering, Tommy DeSeno | 6 Comments »
Public Service Announcement
With the nominating season coming up for New Jersey’s political parties, Boards of Elections and party leaders should be aware that New Jersey lost a seat in congress due to the 2010 census that indicated that our population growth was slower than other states. As a result, a new map of congressional districts was approved last December.
One might think that Boards of Election and party leaders would be aware of this already. Not necessarily.
Peter Carroll, a Republican County Committee member from Middlesex Boro in Middlesex County keeps on top of these things. When meeting with his Municipal Chair, Mike Hompesch, to complete his registration form for the county nominating convention coming up on March 24, Carroll indicated on the form that he lives in the 12th congressional district. “Are you sure?” Carroll reports that Hompesch asked, “all the information from the county says Middlesex Boro is in the 6th district.”
After some back and forth with the Middlesex County GOP, Carroll called the Middlesex County Board of Elections this morning. “Middlesex Boro is in the 6th congressional district,” the nice lady on the phone told Carroll. “But what about the new map?” Carroll asked. After a brief hold, the nice lady came back on the phone and told Carroll that he was right and the Board of Elections had not updated their computers yet.
Carroll reports that he has heard from Middlesex GOP Vice Chair Sylvia Engel that the correction has been made for the March 24 GOP convention.
County Chairs of both parties, and Boards of Elections from all counties should take note. The new congressional map can be found here.
This has been a public service announcement from MoreMonmouthMusings.
Posted: February 24th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congressional Redistricting | Tags: 2010 Census, Middlesex Board of Elections, Middlesex GOP, Mike Hompesch, New Congressional Map, Peter Carroll, Sylvia Engel | 6 Comments »
The filing deadline is April 2.
With all the attention and excitement being paid to Joe Kyrillo’s U.S. Senate candidacy and a new map that most think makes Frank Pallone even harder to beat, there is little if any talk about a GOP candidate in the 6th Congressional District.
So let’s throw some names out there and have then have a poll. I start with names that come to mind. Please add names in the comments. Over the weekend I’ll create a poll.
Former Highlands Mayor Anna Little
Selika Josiah Gore, Marlboro
Matawan Councilwoman Toni Marie Angelini
Matawan Councilman Tom Fitzsimmons
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin
Atlantic Highlands Councilman Peter Doyle
Keyport Mayor Bob McLeod
Former Middletown Committeeman Tom Wilkens
Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore
Hazlet Committeeman Scott Aagre
James Hogan of Long Branch
Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace
Former Freeholder Bill Barham
Former Assemblyman, triCityNews Publisher Dan Jacobson
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno
Freeholder Director John Curley
Posted: February 2nd, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2012 Congressional Races, Congress, Congressional Redistricting | Tags: Amy Handlin, Anna Little, Bill Barham, Bob McLeod, Dan Jacobson, Frank Pallone, Jim Hogan, Joe Irace, John Curley, Kim Guadagno, NJ CD 6, Peter Doyle, Scott Aagre, Selika Joshua Gore, Tom Fitzsimmons, Tom Wilkens, Toni Marie Angelini, Tony Fiore | 38 Comments »
The congressional redistricting commission charged with redrawing New Jersey’s district map to create 12 congressional districts instead of the previous 13 put conservative Republican Scott Garrett of Wantage and liberal Democrat Steve Rothman of Fair Lawn in the same district. Based upon historical voting patterns, Garrett had a 4% edge in the new district.
But 54% of Rothman’s old district was given to Democrat Bill Pascrell, the former Mayor of Patterson who wants a little highway named after himself.
Rothman did the math over the weekend and decided he has a better chance of keeping his insider trading privileges if he runs against Pascrell in the Democratic primary than if he faces Garrett in the November general election, according to a report on NorthJersey.com
Rothman will move from Fair Lawn back to Englewood where he was once mayor.
Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congressional Redistricting | Tags: Bill Pascrell, Congressional Redistricting, Englewood, Fair Lawn, NorthJersey.com, Steve Rothman, Wantage | 1 Comment »
Middletown remains divided between two congressional districts under the new map.
South of Route 35 is in the 4th district, represented by Republican Chris Smith. North of Route 35 remains part of Frank Pallone’s 6th district. Under the old map, the portion of Middletown south of Route 35 was in Democratic Congressman Rush Holt’s district.
At our first look at the map, we incorrectly concluded that Middletown had been combined entirely into the 6th.
Our apologies to Larry Cirignamo.
With this correct information, it would seem that district 6th remains safe for Frank Pallone.
Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congressional Redistricting | Tags: Chris Smith, Frank Pallone, Larry Cirignamo, Middletown, Rush Holt | 15 Comments »
Diane Gooch, Chairwoman of Strong New Jersey, Vice Chair of the Monmouth GOP, and a primary candidate for the GOP nomination in the 6th congressional district in 2010 is not ready to jump into another race for congress, according to a source familiar with her thinking.
Gooch, of Rumson, now resides in Republican Chris Smith’s 4th district. In 2010 her residence was part of Democrat Rush Holt’s district but she chose to compete in the 6th.
Former Highlands Mayor Anna Little, the 6th district GOP nominee in 2010 didn’t stop running against Pallone until recently. She now appears to be focused on competing for the nomination to challenge U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
A Democratic strategist close to Pallone feels the new 6th is slightly safer for the incumbent. The Democrat thinks that Perth Amboy, Carteret and all of Woodbridge off set the loss of Plainfield.
Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congressional Redistricting | Tags: Anna Little, Chris Smith, Diane Gooch, Frank Pallone | Comments Off on Gooch “has a decision to make”
The Assembly Transportation Committee released a bill yesterday that if passed will rename Route 19 in Passaic County after Congressman Bill Pascrell.
Now Pascrell, 74, should announce his retirement and save the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission a lot of work. Doing so would eliminate all controversy over naming a state highway after him.
Barney Frank, 71, the Massachusetts Congressman from Bayonne, announced his retirement after the Bay State announced their new congressional districts. Frank said he didn’t want to raise the money or do the electioneering necessary to get elected in his new district.
Pascrell announcing his retirement prior to the new congressional districts being determined would be a selfless act of public service. The rest of New Jersey’s congressional delegation would want to name a more prominent road after him. The Resdistricting Commission’s work would become easy and appropriate, as the district to be eliminated should be from North Jersey where the population has declined vis-a-vis the rest of the state.
If Pascrell announced his retirement, the bill to name Route 19 after him could be fast tracked in the lame duck legislative session. Governor Christie might even sign it, despite the fact that Pascrell was a Corzine caddy, second only to Frank Pallone, during the 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
If Pascrell does not take this opportunity to retire, the question of the appropriateness of naming public facilities after sitting office holders should be hotly debated. Every member of the Assembly Transportation committee except Burlington County Assemblyman Scott Rudder voted to release the Pascrell naming bill to the full Assembly. Rudder said that naming a road after a sitting office holder was hypocritical and that the state has more pressing issues.
Rudder is right, but there is a stronger argument against giving away the names of public facilities. In these difficult economic times, we should sell and resell the names of our roads, bridges and buildings, with all of the proceeds going to either retire debt or build new facilities, thereby avoiding new debt.
There is precedent for this type of revenue generation. Former Governor Brendan Byrne’s name was taken off the Meadowlands Arena in favor of Continental Airlines and later Izod who both paid handsomely for the naming rights.
Glassboro State College was renamed Rowan University after Mr. Rowan donated $100 million.
The State and New Jersey’s counties and municipalities could benefit greatly by selling naming rights to businesses and philanthropists.
Posted: November 29th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congress, Congressional Redistricting, Economy, Government Waste, Legislature, NJ State Legislature | Tags: Barney Frank, Bill Pascrell, Chris Christie, Congressional Redistricting, Frank Pallone, Naming Rights, Scott Rudder | 2 Comments »
In a piece published at Politickernj and on his Real Numbers blog, Monmouth University Polling Director Patrick Murray argues that district competitiveness should be less of a consideration in drawing the new congressional map than he argued it should have been in the state legislative map.
Murray says that no other state uses competitiveness as a criteria for drawing their maps and that New Jersey would be at a disadvantage if it did so.
“If you were expecting me to argue the same for the Congressional redistricting process, though, you would be wrong. The influence of any state’s delegation is based largely on their influence with the upper echelons of Congressional leadership. Absolute seniority in itself is not important, but some degree of longevity is necessary for members of our delegation to establish those important relationships.
Since few other states use competitiveness to guide their redistricting process, New Jersey would be put at a disadvantage if it did. Even if it made a concerted effort, our commission could probably only create 3 to 5 truly competitive districts – out of 435 nationwide. While that might boost voter turnout in those districts, it would do little to increase the influence of New Jersey as a whole. Influence that we sorely need, considering how little we get back in federal spending for every tax dollar we send to Washington.”
While this argument is consistent with conventional thinking about congress, I’m not sure that it matches up with the current reality in Washington.
It certainly does not match up with the current reality of the New Jersey congressional delegation, by Murray’s own words in the last sentence. If we are getting so little back from Washington with our current delegation, most of whom have significant longevity, what good is their seniority doing us? Would be do much worse, or any worse, with a bunch of freshmen?
In the current congress, the freshmen are running the show, much to the chagrin of the left wing media, the White House and everyone else who thinks congressmen should go to Washington to compromise rather than to do what they promised their constituents they would do during the campaigns.
New Jersey congressmen have an inauspicious history of leadership and influence. Donald Payne and Frank Pallone are the most senior Democrats in the New Jersey delegation. Neither have ever been leaders of note in Washington. Neither has an impressive record of getting legislation passed.
Republican Chris Smith is the longest serving member of the New Jersey delegation. No one can deny that Smith is a leader. He has had more legislation passed that any other member of congress. His influence as a human rights advocate and champion of the unborn is global. However, he is not a congressional leader. Even with his 30 years on the hill and Republicans back in power, he is not a committee chairman or even a sub-committee chairman.
Robert Menendez has been an exception to New Jersey’s lack of congressional leadership. He catapulted over Pallone, Payne and many other Democrats throughout the country in establishing himself as a congressional leader, eventually becoming the third highest ranking Democrat in congress before moving up to the Senate.
Worse for New Jersey residents than the lack of influence in congress that our representatives have, is some members’ lack of concern for the will of their constituents. As Murray said during his appearance on the Real Jersey Guys Radio show on August 2, New Jersey members of congress vote however they want, regardless of how constituents feel about an issue, because gerrymandering has made their jobs so safe.
This is clearly the case in Monmouth County, the majority of which is divided between Frank Pallone’s 6th district and Rush Holt’s 12th. Murray accurately portrays the 6th and 12th as among the most gerrymandered districts. As a result of how these districts have been drawn in the past, much of Monmouth County is essentially disenfranchised from congressional representation. One could easily make an argument that the suburban areas of Pallone and Holt’s districts do not have a congressman, while the urban areas have two.
Murray and I agree that congressmen need incentive to serve and represent their constituents. There is no incentive like competition. The congressional redistricting commission should make competiveness a prime consideration in drawing the new map. Without competition, seniority is not all that is cracked up to be, as New Jersey’s congressional delegation has clearly demonstrated.
Posted: September 22nd, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congressional Redistricting | Tags: CD 6, CD12, Chris Smith, Congressional Redistricting, Donald Payne, Frank Pallone, Monmouth University Poll, Patrick Murray, Robert Menendez, Rush Holt | 2 Comments »
By Art Gallagher
Giving credit where it is do, The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board got one right in their recent editorial lamenting the closure of Fort Monmouth’s commissary. They give a quick summary of the disaster the closure of Fort Monmouth is and how the entire BRAC decision to close the fort was based on faulting economic and home security data.
Fort Monmouth’s closure and the move of its operations to Aberdeen Maryland was a huge waste of money that compromised national security. An investigative series by Asbury Park Press reporters Bill Bowman and Keith Brown (which is no longer linkable) documented the waste and fraudulent numbers that BRAC gave Congress to justify the closure.
In their editorial, The Asbury Park Press accurately lays the blame:
The closing of the base was based on faulty economic and security research in the first place, and yet even with the facts on their side, Reps Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, along with Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez could not carry the day.
That is largely due to the fact that the faulty economic and security data was uncovered by Bowman and Brown after Congress had already voted to close the fort. Pallone, Holt, Lautenberg and Menendez didn’t have the juice to uncover that data before or during the BRAC hearings when it might have made a difference. Worse, the didn’t have the juice needed with their congressional colleagues to keep the fort in New Jersey. Maryland’s delegation had the juice.
This latest insulting failure is just one in a decades, maybe centuries, long example of ineffective congressional representation from New Jersey. Not just Pallone, Holt, Lautenberg and Menendez, but most of the delegation. Every two years during congressional elections challengers complain that New Jersey only gets a fraction of the money we send to Washington sent back, but it never changes. Has there ever been a House Speaker from New Jersey? Name on U.S. Senator from New Jersey who could be considered a historic figure.
As Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray indicated during his interview on the LaRossa and Gallagher Radio Show two weeks ago, New Jersey Congressmen have little incentive to represent the interests or philosophies of their constituents. They vote how ever they want and work on, or don’t work on, whatever they want without regard for the good of their constituents because no matter what they do, their jobs are safe. Historically, gerrymandering as assured that an incumbent member of congress will be reelected time after time except in the rarest or circumstances.
A competitive congressional district map could go a long way to improving the quality of representation New Jersey gets from the people we send to Washington. Currently, Congressmen face no consequences for failures like the BRACing of Fort Monmouth. Despite the rants of congressional challengers every two years about the about of money that New Jersey sends to Washington vs the amount of money that comes back, that situation never changes and our representitives have little incentive to work to change it.
If competitive congressional elections were the norm, rather than a rare exception, New Jersey would get better representation and better results.
New Jersey’s Redistricting Commission has a huge opportunity to create an environment that could lead to an major improvement in the quality of our representation in Washington over the next decade. If past is prelude, the Democrats and Republicans on the commission will spend the process jockeying for influence with the “13th tie breaking” member. The commission will predictably produce a winning map for one party which will be a losing map for the other party.
For New Jersey to have a “winning map” would require at least one party to propose a competitive map based upon population and geography only without regard for the residency of incumbents or the historical voting trends of residents, and for the “13th member,” former Attorney General and Acting Governor for ninety minutes, John Farmer Jr, to do the right thing.
Otherwise, it won’t really matter much which party “wins” the redistricting battle. New Jersey’s representation in Washington will not likely improve if the people will send there have little incentive to work for it.
By the way, Lautenberg and Pallone are scheduled to make a “surprise announcement” in Belmar tomorrow.
Pray for rain.
Maybe Lautenberg is announcing his retirement and endorsing Pallone to replace him. Not likely, but one can hope.
More likely they will announce some legislation they are sponsoring that will probably never become law or some appropriation they are proposing or maybe even secured that will not have nearly postive impact on New Jersey that the negative impact that the closure of Fort Monmouth will have.
Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congress, Congressional Redistricting, Frank Lautenberg, Frank Pallone, LaRossa and Gallagher, Patrick Murray, Redistricting, Rush Holt | Tags: Congressional Redisticting New Jersey, Congressional Redistricting, Frank Lautenberg, Frank Pallone, John Farmer, JR, Patrick Murray, Robert Menendez, Rush Holt | 7 Comments »
The Republican and Democratic parties have agreed to the selection of John Farmer Jr as the 13th member of the Congressional Redistricting Commission. Farmer is the dean of the Rutgers University Law School and was Attorney General during the Whitman and DiFranceso administrations. He was legal counsel to Alan Rosenthal, the tie breaking member of the state legislative reapportionment commission.
Farmer was Acting Governor for ninety minutes on Janurary 8, 2002, according to his Wikipedia page.
Posted: July 20th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Congressional Redistricting | Tags: Congressional Redistricting, John Farmer Jr | 4 Comments »