The speculation on the likely targets of the Democratic delegation to the 2012 Redistricting Commission has included a matchup that might at first seem unlikely: between Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11).
New Jersey will definitely lose a House seat, leaving 12 Congressional districts having on average 734,000 people each. The population has largely shifted southward, with the result that the jam-packed urban districts that include Newark, Jersey City, and Patterson must enlarge. This will inevitably push the suburban districts of northern New Jersey to the south and West. (Whether Millburn, Livingston, the Caldwells, Essex Fells, Fairfield, and Roseland in Essex County will remain in District 11, or find themselves joining Districts 8 and 10, is an open question.)
Rodney Frelinghuysen is tied with Frank LoBiondo for the distinction of second most senior Republican in New Jersey’s House delegation, and fifth most senior Representative of either party from New Jersey. (Chris Smith, R-4, is the most senior Representative of either party; Frank Pallone, D-6, and Donald Payne, D-10, are tied for second; and Rob Andrews, D-1, is fourth.) Conservative activist and lawyer Andrew L. Schlafly informed this Examiner two months ago of a rumor that reached him to the effect that Frelinghuysen was a prime target of the Democrats. If he were, that would only be because the northern urban districts (8, 9, 10, and 13) would have to expand, and Frelinghuysen’s district forms the western boundary of that region.
But Frelinghuysen’s district would have to expand, too. It would then have to expand to the north (into Scott Garrett’s 5th District) or west (into the 7th). If seniority dictates the direction of expansion, then the 7th District is the likely target for dissolution and parceling. Lance is the second-most-junior Representative of either Party from New Jersey. (The most junior, Jon Runyan, is in South Jersey. Any danger to him would not involve dissolution of his district, but might involve its expansion to the north to include parts of Trenton.)
The most salient reason why the Democrats might want to match Frelinghuysen against Lance is this: these two men are in a tie for the second most conservative voting record in the 111th Congress. (Garrett holds the number-one spot.)
Of course, none of these men (except for Garrett) is entirely conservative enough for the Tea Party movement. Lance and Frelinghuysen both had Tea Party challengers in the 2010 primaries; Lance in fact had three, and Frelinghuysen one. A merged district would create a very busy primary, with as many as five Republicans on the ballot and two very strong contenders for “The Line.”
Like this article? Want to be notified of more? Click Subscribe, above.