Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) has announced he will run against fellow Democrat Bill Pascrell in a newly redrawn New Jersey congressional district instead of challenging a Republican for a more GOP-friendly seat, he told colleagues.
The veteran Jewish Democrat will now battle Pascrell in a June Democratic primary, one of several intramural fights around the nation sparked by once-a-decade redistricting exercises.
Rothman was forced into a tough decision because New Jersey lost a congressional seat. His Ninth District in north Jersey was essentially sliced up between Pascrell’s seat and one represented by conservative Republican Scott Garrett.
Rothman’s dilemma was made tougher by the fact that Garrett’s new district is much more friendly to Republicans and voted for John McCain in the 2008 Presidential race, despite President Obama’s sweeping most of the state.
Insiders told the Star-Ledger of Newark that Rothman may have felt he had an uphill battle against Garrett and could be vulnerable to future challenges, whereas he would be getting a shot at a fairly safe seat if he can beat Pascrell.
Rothman has $1.7 million in his campaign war chest, while Pascrell has $1.4 million, Politico reported
Still, analysts say Democratic powerbrokers may pressure Rothman to change his mind and try to knock off Garrett, WBGO news reported. If he does run against Pascrell, it will likely mean an effective loss of a seat in the Garden State, leaving the state’s delegation evenly split between the two parties.