Prepared by Advocacy & Management Group (AMG)
Earlier this month New Jersey held a general election for the office of governor and all 120 seats of the Legislature. As expected, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and retired Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy won the election over Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. Murphy won with 56% of the vote to Guadagno’s 42%.
The most closely watched legislative race between Senate President Stephen Sweeney and a Republican opponent funded by the New Jersey Education Association became the most expensive state legislative race in New Jersey history but Sweeney easily won re-election by double-digits. Senate Democrats picked up two seats on Election Day. In District 11 former Monmouth County Democrats Chairman Vin Gopal beat Republican Senator Jennifer Beck and in District 7 where Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton won the open Senate election to replace retiring Republican Senator Diane Allen. However, the Democrats were unable to hold onto the open District 2 Senate seat held by the late Democratic Senator Jim Whelan. Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown won that race. The Senate majority will increase from 24-16 to 25-15 in the new legislative session. Assembly Democrats picked up two seats as well. Democrat John Armato, a Buena Vista Township Committeeman, won the 2nd district Assembly seat vacated by Republican Assembly Chris Brown and Democrat Roy Freiman won the 16th district Assembly seat vacated by Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli who gave up his seat to run for the Republican nomination for governor. The Assembly majority will increase from 52-28 to 54-26.
Senate President Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg were re-elected to their roles by their Democratic colleagues. Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. was also re-elected by his Republican colleagues. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto was targeted by members of the powerful South Jersey bloc of Democratic Assembly members along with several other members in central New Jersey earlier this year due to policy disagreements and leadership concerns. Middlesex County Assemblyman Craig Coughlin has been elected by his colleagues to serve as the next Assembly Speaker effective January 9, 2018 and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald was re-elected to serve in his capacity. Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick was re-elected by his Republican colleagues. We anticipate legislative hearings and voting sessions as part of the lame duck session will begin in earnest soon.
The gubernatorial transition is under way. Jose Lozano, chief of staff at Hackensack Meridian Health and a former member of Governor Corzine’s staff, is leading the transition. Pete Cammarano, former chief of staff to Acting Governor Dick COdey, will be the new governor’s chief of staff. Cammarano currently serves as a partner of a Trenton lobbying firm. Appointments to 14 transition committess have been announced. The Environment and Energy Committee’s members include:
David Crane, former President and CEO, NRG Energy
Jeanne Fox, former President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Kathleen Frangione, former Senior Advisor, Senator John Kerry
Lisa Garcia, Vice President of Litigation for Healthy Communities, Earthjustice
John S. Watson Jr., Vice President, D&R Greenway Land Trust
We will continue to monitor developments surrounding the new legislative session and Governor-elect Murphy’s transition.