A committee of 13 is scheduled to vote Friday morning on how to carve up New Jersey's congressional districts, eliminating one of the state's 13 seats.
Democrats want to combine a Republican and a Democratic district in Northeast Jersey to allow a "fair fight" between two incumbents, according to Democratic sources. They submitted their final map to the redistricting committee Thursday morning.
The Democratic plan would pit Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, a tea-party favorite elected in 2002, against Rep. Steve Rothman, a Democrat elected in 1996.
The newly redrawn district would include parts of Garrett's Bergen County district (the fifth) with parts of Rothman's district (the ninth), which currently includes parts of Bergen and Hudson Counties. The voter registration breakdown of the Democratic plan would be 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, according to Democratic sources.
Republicans also have submitted a map to the committee, but details of their plan were not immediately available Thursday morning.
The vote is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in Trenton.
Unlike Pennsylvania, which allows the state legislature to redraw congressional boundaries, New Jersey is one of seven states that uses a committee of Democrats and Republicans with an independent tiebreaker.
John Farmer Jr., dean of Rutgers Law in Newark and a former state attorney general, is the tie-breaking vote on the committee of 13.
The committee has been holed up in the The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick hashing out the plan for the new map all week. Although the state's deadline to submit the new map is Jan. 17, Farmer said he wanted to get it finished before Christmas.
Every 10 years legislative and congressional maps are redrawn according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census.
Since New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, grew at a less than an average rate, it lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Every representative's district will add population to reach 732,658 people per district. Since South Jersey is growing faster than North Jersey, it's believed that the South Jersey districts won't change much. Political observers say the South Jersey districts are likely to push a little further north in the new map.