After negotiating for four days in a New Brunswick hotel, a committee tasked with eliminating one of New Jersey's 13 congressional districts is set to vote on a new map Friday.
Democrats and Republicans on the committee came up with the same basic idea: Pit Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, a tea-party favorite elected in 2002, against Rep. Steve Rothman, a Democrat elected in 1996 and an early supporter of President Obama's candidacy four years ago, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Both congressmen represent districts in the far northeast of the state, in Bergen County.
The GOP map would give Garrett a slight edge in the combined district, according to the source, whereas the Democrats asked for a 50-50 voter registration divide.
New Jersey has seven Democrats and five Republicans in the U.S. House.
John J. Farmer Jr., dean of Rutgers Law School and the tie-breaking vote on the committee of 13, told reporters Thursday at the Heldrich Hotel that the maps were still different enough that he would likely have to pick one. He was expected to make a formal statement Friday.
Neither Garrett nor Rothman responded to requests for comment Thursday.
New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, is losing one of its seats in the House because the state's population did not grow as quickly as other states'. Every 10 years, legislative and congressional maps are redrawn according to the latest census.
Like most states, Pennsylvania's lawmakers redrew its districts. The Republican-controlled state legislature eliminated a Democratic southwestern district, pushing two Democratic congressmen into a possible runoff against each other. It also radically redrew several districts in an attempt to protect Republican House members.
Gov. Corbett, also a Republican, signed off on the new map Thursday.
New Jersey is one of seven states that uses a committee to redraw its map.
The committee has been holed up in the hotel all week. Although the deadline to submit the new map is Jan. 17, Farmer said he wanted to finish it before Christmas.
Every representative's district will add population to reach the required 732,658 people per district, but none of the other districts is expected to change significantly, according to a source familiar with the process.
Since South Jersey is growing faster than North Jersey, it's believed that southern districts won't change much. Political observers say the South Jersey districts are likely to push a little farther north.
The vote on the new map is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in Trenton.