Saturday, April 24, 2010
If you live in (or for that matter near) New Jersey's hideously gerrymandered 12th Congressional District, you could help your country by getting out there and hustling for Scott Sipprelle to replace Rush Holt, one of Nancy Pelosi's most reliable supporters, in the United States Congress. Click on his campaign's web site to learn more. Below, a rare picture of Your Blogger with the candidate.
Good start, TH. I think one of the keys to Scott's victory could be an important role carried by some of us in the new media.
Let's be frank. Many of the newspapers, including the "nickel-news" local papers of central New Jersey dominated by the Packet conglomeration that covers this district, are likely going to go out of their way to help out Holt. Similarly, the nj.com papers, including especially the Times (of Trenton) and the Star-Ledger, will lean left. It is simply the way they have always been.
The Gannett coverage from the Asbury Park Press will likely be much more balanced, but I think new media can also play a role in at least covering different angles of his story.
Boy, you are certainly correct about the "gerrymandered" character of the District.
Looking closely at the makeup of the New Jersey 12th Congressional District, which I attempted to describe in my post back on April 8th immediately following Scott's victory in the Hunterdon County Convention, it is reasonably clear that any discernable, district wide community of local interests (other than a curious abundance of Democrat-leaning voting districts) seems fairly well disguised.
But that breadth of differing community interests could actually be an advantage for Scott in a year when discontent over top-down Democrat imposition of big government solutions is not getting such rave reviews, to say the least! It could be one of the things we all have in common!
If you zoom in using the Govtrack map of the 12th Congressional District, you can see that it begins up in the Delaware River community of Frenchtown in Hunterdon, and ends up in Rumson, literally across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, taking in along the way portions of Hunterdon County, Mercer County, a tiny chunk of Somerset County, and portions of Middlesex County and Monmouth County as well.
Ha! New Jersey's Gerrymandering Democrats are pikers compared to those we have down here in Maryland. After the last census they managed to get it down to only two Republicans in the delegation and after the 2008 election, it was only one.
Why, oh, why am I supposedly represented by Sarbanes the younger, going into the family business, whose district extends from downtown Baltimore all the way down here to Annapolis?
Of all the Constitutional amendments discussed over the years, I wonder if one was ever contemplated as a means of containing the worst excesses of gerrymandering. Does anyone know? I'm not even sure one would have any force at the federal level, and the responsibility for district configuration might just be a state-by-state responsibility.
MTF, several factors drive the configuration of congressional districts, including the final count in the decennial census which, of course, immediately determines how many Congressional districts each state will have for the next ten years.
In the 1990s, New Jersey constitutionally opted for a "bipartisan" Commission system, by which an otherwise evenly divided membership (6 Ds & 6 Rs) on the Commission is charged with developing a plan, with the Commission members selecting a 13th "independent" appointee as the Chair. If there is a deadlock over the selection of the 13th member, our state’s Supreme Court then picks the person who they conclude is the "more qualified" from between the two top contenders for that the potential tie-breaker vote.
The reality is that the Ds on the Commission would normally develop one plan, and the Rs on the Commission would develop another.
What results is a "bipartisan" gerrymandering process, and a tie-breaking vote by the independent.
Just to give you an idea of the "gerrymandering" aspects of the current 12th District, there are portions of five counties in the district . . . Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset, Middlesex and Monmouth, reaching from the Delaware River, all the way across the state to within one block of the Atlantic Ocean.
And, in addition, there are portions of a considerable number of the cities and townships within those portions of the five counties.
So for example, there are within in the 12th, portions of Trenton (Mercer); portions of Old Bridge (Middlesex); portions of Freehold (Monmouth); portions of Manalapan (Monmouth); portions of Marlboro (Monmouth); portions of Middletown (Monmouth); and a small portion of Franklin Twp (Somerset).