Scott Garrett, the solidly conservative Congressman from New Jersey may be on the verge of getting a raw deal thanks to a bipartisan redistricting commission in New Jersey. Garrett could be the one Republican thrown into a district with a Democrat. Some background is here.This is unfortunate because his district is starkly different from the rest of the state. He’s got small and mid-sized cities, towns and rural areas – pretty much everything else in New Jersey is either suburban or urban. It’s basically an “L” in the western & northern part of the state. So to merge with another district, the new district would have to entail the suburban New York areas – resulting in a rather bizarre gerrymander. The latest rumor is that Garrett will be put into a district with Steve Rothman – a domestic liberal and foreign policy hawk who can raise a ton of cash if he’s in a competitive race since he’s on the Appropriations Committee and is very well liked by pro-Israel donors. Garrett can obviously raise money, too, but why should someone who can help candidates around the country be forced into an expensive fight against a strong Dem when Cong. Lance would make much more sense to be merged in with a Democrat given the various existing constituencies?
With a mandate to pare 13 districts down to 12, the bipartisan commission has been expected to create a 50/50 district between a Democrat and a Republican incumbent, with many speculating that the race will be between Rep. Rush Holt (D), and (moderate) GOP Rep. Leonard Lance. For more on this theory, see here.Given that the Lance/Holt district is much easier to draw and is much more intuitive, a Garrett/Rothman district is clearly motivated by something other than what is best for the Republican Party and the people of New Jersey. The new Garrett/Rothman rumor seems like a move by Governor Chris Christie, who’s not been thrilled with the prospect of a powerful Tea Party in his state.So now the Republicans on the bipartisan commission could be getting ready to throw a national leader of the conservative movement and a Tea Party favorite – one who actually does stuff in Congress – under the bus, while sparing a bona fide moderate like Congressman Leonard Lance.The time is running out in this fight and I sure hope Gov. Christie might use his influence to save Scott Garrett.