I think the story of the next legislature will be south jersey.
In a series of rapidly moving developments, it appears as though a deal has been cut between the Essex delegation and the south jersey dems ( also known as Adubato and Norcross, respectively ) to support Sheila Oliver for Speaker and Steve Sweeney for Senate Prez.
This satisfies the various factions within the Democratic party for several reasons. For one, Essex County plans to deliver up to 70,000 for Jon Corzine in November. That is by far the highest total of any county in the state. For weeks I had been hearing that a deal was being made for Cryan as Speaker and Sweeney as Senate Prez but sources in Essex had told me “no way.” They said that if Codey did not have the votes to remain Senate President then Essex would need the Speaker’s position. Apparently that held true in this deal.
Members of the Black Caucus are satisfied ( although officially, they don’t endorse ) because you would have the first African American female as Speaker. And that of course, brings me to south jersey.
the south jersey coalition is now 12 members including current elected officials and those expected to be elected in November. As a united front they are a force to be reckoned with. Not only was Joe Roberts one of their own…but now, like the Essex delegation, they too can demand one of the top spots ( in this case the Senate Presidency for Sweeney ) when leadership changes. That’s a pretty big deal. One could even say their power is at its zenith right now. And it will certainly be interesting to see how united they remain going forward. After all, more than one of them may seek the governorship or some other key position next time around. And let’s face it, they may call it south jersey but it ain’t all the same. It’s a pretty big geographic area. The terrain varies, as do the income levels and needs…so it may be tough to keep speaking with one voice.
But If the current leadership deal holds, here are some other expectations:
Cryan would come away with support as Majority Leader in the Assembly, with Barbara Buono stepping into Majority Leader on the Senate side. Sarlo ( who was passed over for the position once before ) would become Budget Committee Chairman.
Less certain is who would move in to Cryan’s current position of DSC Chair.
Of course Codey has vowed to fight, at least for now. He issued an ominous statement warning that leadership fights are “fluid.” But you gotta wonder how he feels about Teresa Ruiz from Essex included on the list of names supporting Sweeney. The word is that Nick Scutari got on board the Sweeney train against his will.
And of course we know that Ray Lesniak is always with the winner.
As a final note – The Sweeney press release listed a total of 14 names that are with him in the Senate ( 12 are needed to win ). 14, if you remember, was the number you heard here first three weeks ago.
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