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Democrats kick ex-Senate president off redistricting panel

January 26, 2022 GMT
FILE - New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney pauses to take questions from members of the media during a news conference in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Sweeney, now New Jersey's former Senate president after he lost reelection to a little known Republican in November, has been booted from the commission charged with redrawing the state's legislative districts. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney pauses to take questions from members of the media during a news conference in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Sweeney, now New Jersey's former Senate president after he lost reelection to a little known Republican in November, has been booted from the commission charged with redrawing the state's legislative districts. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney pauses to take questions from members of the media during a news conference in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Sweeney, now New Jersey's former Senate president after he lost reelection to a little known Republican in November, has been booted from the commission charged with redrawing the state's legislative districts. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney pauses to take questions from members of the media during a news conference in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Sweeney, now New Jersey's former Senate president after he lost reelection to a little known Republican in November, has been booted from the commission charged with redrawing the state's legislative districts. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney pauses to take questions from members of the media during a news conference in Trenton, N.J., Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Sweeney, now New Jersey's former Senate president after he lost reelection to a little known Republican in November, has been booted from the commission charged with redrawing the state's legislative districts. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s former Senate president, who lost reelection to a little-known Republican in November, has been booted from the commission charged with redrawing the state’s legislative districts.

Steve Sweeney had been one of the Democratic Party’s representatives on the 11-person, bipartisan panel. But LeRoy Jones said that, in his capacity as the Democratic state party chairperson, he was removing Sweeney, according to a letter Jones sent to the secretary of state Wednesday.

No explanation was given, but Jones said in a statement that the party wanted to include more diverse voices on the panel, known formally as the Apportionment Commission. A message seeking a reason was left with a party spokesperson.

Instead of Sweeney, Jones tapped Laura Matos to fill the spot. She works at the public affairs firm Kivvit.

“In appointing Laura Matos today, we are also taking a long overdue step to bring broader, more diverse voices and perspectives to the work that we have on the Apportionment Commission,” Jones said in a statement.

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A message seeking comment was also left with Sweeney. He had earlier said he planned to stay on the commission.

His removal from the commission takes away an influential voice from southern New Jersey as well as a high-profile figure in state politics who helped Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy accomplish many of his first-term promises.

The commission is charged with drawing the state’s 40 legislative districts after the federal census every 10 years. Each district elects two Assembly members and one senator to the Legislature. Democrats and Republicans each appoint 10 members to the commission, with the 11th member chosen by the chief justice of the state supreme court.

Sweeney lost reelection in his southern New Jersey 3rd District race last year to Ed Durr, a truck driver who had never held office.

Sweeney, a Democrat, has said he’s weighing running for governor in 2025.