NPR Story
4:23 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Rep. Pascrell Victorious In Redrawn N.J. District

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 12:07 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Congressional redistricting has reshaped many elections this year. In New Jersey, it forced two friends into battle against one another. Veteran Democratic Congressman Steve Rothman lost primary yesterday to fellow Democrat, fellow Congressman Bill Pascrell. They became opponents after New Jersey lost a congressional seat following the last census. Nancy Solomon from New Jersey Public Radio has the story.

NANCY SOLOMON, BYLINE: Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell arrived in Washington 16 years ago. They were from neighboring districts, became friends and allies, and went on to have nearly identical voting records. But last year, when redistricting landed Rothman's residence in Republican Scott Garrett's district, he moved to a town that put him in the same district as Bill Pascrell. But that apparently didn't sit well with voters. Turnout was low in many of the towns where Rothman was the incumbent. He says he doesn't regret not facing the Republican.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE ROTHMAN: No. I ran in my home district with the people I was born and raised with, and Billy ran in the district where he was born and raised. They just happened to put the two of us together, and more of the people in his neck of the woods came out than in my neck of the woods.

SOLOMON: Pascrell clobbered Rothman in Paterson, New Jersey's third largest city and Pascrell's own home town. In his victory speech, the 75-year-old Pascrell rolled up his sleeves, playing up his reputation as a guy who never backs away from a fight.

REPRESENTATIVE BILL PASCRELL: As a lifelong Patersonian, my parents always taught me not to start fights, but to know how to end them. Tonight, we did just that. That's what we did.

(APPLAUSE)

SOLOMON: The defeat of Rothman leaves New Jersey's most populace county, Bergen, without a hometown champion in Congress. Rothman was on the Appropriations Committee, and as he pointed out in his concession speech, that benefited Bergen.

ROTHMAN: Bringing home more than $2 billion to our district for new roads, sewers, bridges, hospitals, train stations, you name it.

(APPLAUSE)

SOLOMON: The heavily Democratic district is a lock to reelect Pascrell in November. Rothman says he'll campaign for his old friend, but his own political career, he says, is over. For NPR News, I'm Nancy Solomon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.