by Karl Kurtz
Quick. Name an academic political scientist who has spent a career studying state legislatures but has also recently been named the most powerful person in his state's politics during the last year.
Does that seem like an unlikely combination? Try Rutgers University Prof. Alan Rosenthal who, in addition to writing numerous influential books on state legislatures, has served on two different occasions as the 11th, nonpartisan, tie-breaking member of New Jersey's state legislative redistricting commission. For his decision last year to back a plan favored by Democrats, in the face of fierce pressure from Gov. Chris Christie, Politicker NJ ranked Rosenthal #1 among New Jersey's 100 most powerful politicos, excluding elected officials, in 2011.
PolitickerNJ's citation said of Rosenthal: "This academic succeeded this year where every Democratic politico in the state failed; he checked the power of Gov. Chris Christie." Rosenthal's rationale was that he chose the plan that was more likely to allow either side to win control of the legislature and was "less disruptive" to incumbents.
When asked about the award, Rosenthal laughed and said, "It's pretty amazing because there were a bunch of people on the list below me who are genuinely powerful."
Photo credit: PolitickerNJ