Following last Tuesday’s elections, in which all 120 seats of the Legislature were up for grabs, and governor-elect Phil Murphy won the state’s top office, both houses of the New Jersey Legislature held reorganization meetings.
While the state Senate returned President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) to office, the General Assembly saw a leadership shake-up.
Senate Meets Members of the state Senate returned to Trenton on Thursday, Nov. 9 to decide who will lead their respective caucuses for the 2018-2019 legislative session.
The majority Senate Democratic caucus selected sitting Senate President Sweeney to continue serving in that capacity. Sweeney has led the Senate since 2010 and would become the longest serving Senate president in New Jersey history, should he remain in that role throughout his four-year Senate term. He has made school funding one of his top policy priorities over the past several months, and pledged to continue moving the state towards full funding of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) in the next session.
Rounding out the top of the Senate Democratic leadership team are:
- Loretta Weinberg (D-37) – Senate Majority Leader
- M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) – President Pro Tempore. The senator will continue to serve as Education Committee chair.
Senate President Sweeney filled out the leadership team by selecting: Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) to serve as Deputy Majority Leader and remain chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee; Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-31) as Deputy Majority Leader and chair of the Higher Education Committee; and Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-22) as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
On the Republican side of aisle, Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21), will remain Senate Minority Leader, a position he has held since 2008.
New Assembly Speaker The General Assembly, which elected its leadership teams on Monday, will witness a leadership shake-up in 2018. Most significantly, Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19) will replace Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32) as Assembly Speaker. Assemblyman Coughlin has been a member of the General Assembly since 2010 and currently serves as the chair of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. His previous political experience includes a stint on the South Amboy Board of Education.
The following Democratic legislators were each reelected to remain in their current positions:
- Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-6) – Majority Leader
- Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-20) – Speaker Pro Tempore
- Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) – Majority Conference Leader
It was also reported that Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29) will replace Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) as the chair of the powerful Assembly Budget Committee.
Sitting Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) will continue to head the lower house’s Republican caucus. Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-21) will remain Conference Leader and Republican Whip, respectively.
2017 Election Results The partisan composition of the state Legislature will be slightly altered when the 2018-2019 session begins in January. Following the Nov. 7 election, Senate Democrats increased their majority by one member. While Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2) defeated Colin Bell in Legislative District 2 to grab the Senate seat long held by the late Jim Whelan, the Democrats picked up two seats previously held by Republicans. In Legislative District 7, Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7) will replace Senator Diane Allen, who announced her retirement earlier this year. In District 11, Vin Gopal (D) defeated sitting Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11). When the new Legislature convenes next year, the Senate Democrats will hold a 25-15 majority over their Republican colleagues.
The Democrats also increased their majority in the General Assembly. In Legislative District 16, Democrat Roy Freiman will replace outgoing Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), who pursued a run at governor this cycle rather than seek reelection to the Assembly. Legislative District 2 will also be sending a new Democrat to the Assembly when John Armato replaces Assemblyman Chris Brown, who is ascending to the Senate. Democrats will now outnumber Republicans 54 to 26 in the Assembly.
The new Legislature will be sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. One week later, Ambassador Phil Murphy will be sworn in as New Jersey’s next Governor. Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, defeated the sitting Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and will become New Jersey’s 56th Governor.