On December 23, 2011, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Committee, in compliance with the outcome of the 2010 U.S. Census and the requirements of federal law, consolidated New Jersey’s then 13 House seats into 12 congressional districts.
Even though both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature were controlled by Democrats, and New Jersey’s Congressional delegation in Washington, DC was made up of a majority of Democratic members, the half Democrat and half Republican Commission named a Republican, John Farmer, Jr., as its tie-breaker. Farmer was the former Chief Counsel to Republican Governor Christine Todd Whitman and former New Jersey Attorney General under Republican Governors Whitman and Donald Di Francesco. Earlier in the year, Farmer had been counsel to the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, but not a member of that Commission nor the tie-breaker. The tie-breaker on that Commission was Rutgers University Professor Alan Rosenthal, Democrat.
Of the 6 Democrats on the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission, none were from Bergen County, which was the largest county by population in New Jersey. Edward Farmer (no relation to John Farmer, Jr.) was one of those 6 Democrats. He had served 7 years as the Chief of Staff to Congressman Bill Pascrell.
On December 23, 2012, the Commission chose a map, advocated by Republican members, by a 7–6 vote, with the tie-breaker Farmer voting for the map advocated for by Republican members. That map created a new 5th Congressional District, combining parts of New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Scott Garrett (age 53), with parts of the 8th Congressional District, which was represented by Rep. William Pascrell (age 75), and parts of the 9th Congressional District, which was represented by Rep. Steve Rothman (age 60).
At the time of the creation of this new map, Congressmen Rothman and Pascrell were members of two of the most powerful committees in the U.S. House of Representatives: Rothman, with a 12-year tenure on the House Appropriations Committee; and Pascrell, with a 6-year tenure on the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Republican plan chosen by the Redistricting Commission removed 7 of the largest Democratic vote-producing municipalities from the 9th District (the Jersey City, North Bergen, and Kearny sections of the District; Fairview, Hackensack, Fair Lawn and two-thirds of Teaneck) and moved major Passaic County cities and towns (Paterson, Passaic and Clifton, Haledon and Prospect Park) into the 9th Congressional District
The incumbent congressman in the 8th District, lifelong Passaic County resident Congressman Bill Pascrell, the former Mayor of Paterson and New Jersey State Assemblyman from Passaic County, announced that he would run in the Democratic Primary for the redrawn 9th Congressional District. Rep. Pascrell had represented the 8th Congressional District since 1997.
The incumbent congressman in the 9th District, lifelong Bergen County resident Congressman Steve Rothman, the former Mayor of Englewood and elected Bergen County Surrogate Court Judge, announced that he would run in the Democratic Primary for re-election in the 9th Congressional District. Rep. Rothman had represented the 9th Congressional District since 1997.
Rothman was defeated by Pascrell in the 2012 Democratic Primary.
In describing the gerrymandered redistricting, Record Editorial Page Editor Alfred Doblin wrote that “While many folks are looking at the new 5th District as being a combination of the existing 5th and 9th districts, it’s really the current 8th District that is getting the lion’s share of Rothman’s 9th. Rothman’s constituents are in what these folks are calling Pascrell’s district.
From a Pascrell point of view, the conversation is going very nicely indeed. No one has been suggesting that Pascrell is the man under the bus. Few suggested last week that the Republican map was really about two incumbent Democrats battling each other, yet that may very well have been the GOP’s intent all along.”
Doblin continued by writing that Rothman….. “had been swallowed by a whale,” like the Biblical Jonah. He described Rothman as ‘a mensch’. . . ‘a person of integrity and honor.”