New Legislative Map Impacts Women

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STATE – New Jersey’s new legislative map will have a strong impact on women, according to data released yesterday by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

Five incumbent New Jersey assemblywomen – more than one fifth of the women currently serving – will not run for reelection because of the redrawn state legislative map. At the same time, newly-drawn district lines have opened doors for new women to run for the legislature in the June 7 primary. A current assemblywoman is favored to win the only open Senate seat. And if predictions for November prove accurate, one district could elect New Jersey’s first allwoman legislative delegation.


“In a state where 28% of the current legislature is female, women make up 70% of the legislators who will retire from the legislature as a result of redistricting,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics. “The impact of the new map has been especially harsh on incumbent Democratic assemblywomen, with one quarter of them leaving the legislature. We’ve expanded women’s representation in the Garden State significantly in recent years, but that progress may now be slowed.”

A record 23 women (12 D, 11 R) are seeking State Senate seats in the primaries, while 50 women (27 D, 23 R) are running for the Assembly, down from the 2007 record of 51. The record total of 73 women running for the legislature is up from the previous high of 68 women primary candidates in 2007, the last time all seats in both houses were on the ballot.

Women are well represented in races for open seats, the best opportunities for newcomers to join the legislature. In all, 11 women are running in primaries for 9 open Assembly seats in 7 of the state’s two-member districts. (In total, there are 13 open seats in 11 districts.) Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-35) is favored to win the only open State Senate seat, which is in a traditionally Democratic district.

Five current women lawmakers have announced their retirements, motivated by shifting district boundaries. They are Denise Coyle (R-16), Elease Evans (D-35), Joan Quigley (D-32), Caridad Rodriguez (D-33) and Joan Voss (D-38).

The newly reshaped (and likely safe for the GOP) 11th legislative district could be represented by three women, since three Republican incumbents will be on the ticket there: Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande.

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