Record, The (Hackensack, NJ) - Friday, April 22, 2011

A Tea Party group based at the Jersey Shore filed a lawsuit Thursday contending that the new legislative map favors Democrats, is unconstitutional and "will lock in one-party control of the New Jersey Legislature for the next decade." 

The map was chosen April 3 by an 11-member commission composed of five Democrats, five Republicans and one independent tiebreaker, Alan Rosenthal. Rosenthal cast his vote with the Democrats' proposal, giving them a victory in one of the most important political fights of the decade. 

Attorney Russell Cote, a member of the Bayshore Tea Party group, argued the new map is unconstitutional because South Jersey districts tend to have more residents than North Jersey districts and nobody on the commission represented unaffiliated and third-party voters. He also said counties are split many more times than necessary, and Newark and Jersey City would see their clout diluted because they would each go from three legislative districts to two. 

The Tea Party group also charged the districts were shaped with the sole aim of protecting incumbents. 

"There is simply no rational explanation for the fantastical shapes into which the Commission Democrats crammed New Jersey's legislative districts other than to effectively disenfranchise millions of voters and to protect incumbents' jobs," Cote wrote in the suit, which was filed in state Superior Court. 

Democratic state chairman John Wisniewski, who led the Democrats' redistricting team, said he's confident the map passes constitutional muster. "This is a map that not only met traditional redistricting criteria but improved upon compactness, competitiveness and one-person, one-vote standards and will ultimately be found constitutional," he said.