Judge Robert Lougy rejected former Senate President Steve Sweeney’s petition to be reinstated onto the Apportionment Commission, marking a second indignity for the one powerful Democratic lawmaker who failed to win another term in Trenton to a Republican newcomer who spent little money but rode a red wave amid voter dissatisfaction with the Biden era.
Sweeney filed his civil complaint after LeRoy Jones, chairman of the Democratic State Committee and head of redistricting commission’s Democratic delegation, replaced him with Laura Matos, a lobbyist recently appointed as chairwoman of the Pinelands Commission.
Jones said he picked Matos because the redistricting panel had no Hispanic representation although about 22% of New Jersey residents are Latino.
Jones, who is also chairman of Essex County’s Democratic Party, said it’s his “responsibility and duty to select standard-bearers who will best represent the Democratic Party’s interests” and to “ensure a strong and representative party moving forward.”
“No person or organization’s goals and ambitions are above the interests of our party and the people of this state,” Jones said. “This decision was necessary to protect the future of the Democratic Party, and the integrity of the commission as a whole.”
Sweeney’s attorney said the former top lawmaker is considering whether to appeal the ruling.
William M. Tambussi, a partner with the Collingswood law firm Brown & Connery, said the judge’s decision means that there will be no South Jersey Democratic representation on the commission.
Sweeney, who expected to remain Senate president, lost his re-election campaign in November to Republican Ed Durr.
Sweeney had been named to the commission that will draw the state’s 40 legislative districts and expected to remain on the panel.