In Brief

N.J. lawmakers pick leaders, but Senate presidency still in flux

By: - November 4, 2021 3:14 pm

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) speaks to reporters about leadership changes on Nov. 4. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

New Jersey has a new batch of legislative leaders.

Much of the top leadership in the Assembly remains unchanged: Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), and Assembly Majority Conference Leader Annette Quijano will stay on in their current roles.

“I’m proud that we’re going to return the majority that we are in the Assembly, and I’m proud today to accept the support of all of my colleagues for a third term as the speaker,” said Coughlin, the first speaker to win a third consecutive term in the leadership position.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic) will replace Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) as Assembly speaker pro tem. Johnson was elected Tuesday as state senator in the 37th District, replacing Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a Bergen County Democrat who is retiring from the Legislature at the end of the current session and did not seek re-election.

Democrats will retain control of the Senate in the new session, but the body’s leadership remains in flux. The Associated Press has projected Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) was defeated by Republican Ed Durr, a low-dollar candidate who scored the upset victory of the year. Sweeney has not conceded.

Sens. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), and Joe Cryan (D-Union) have emerged as potential candidates for the Senate presidency, multiple Democratic members told the New Jersey Monitor, though much about the succession is still in flux.

GOP leadership

There were more shifts in leadership on the Republican side in both chambers.

Assemblyman John DiMaio will replace Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) as Assembly minority leader (Bramnick was elected Tuesday to the state Senate in the 21st District). Assemblyman Ned Thomson (R-Ocean) will replace Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Morris) as minority conference leader, and Assemblyman Antwan McClellan (R-Cape May) will become minority whip.

In the Senate, Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) will replace Sen. Tom Kean as the chamber’s minority leader. Kean did not seek re-election and is set to run for the 7th Congressional District House seat.

Sens. Bob Singer (R-Ocean) and Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris), who were also in contention for the top spot in his caucus, will serve as deputy leaders, while Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Passaic) will stay on as conference leader.

Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) will become deputy conference leader, Sen. Tony Bucco (R-Morris) will replace Pennacchio as minority whip, and Sen. Declan O’Scanlon will be budget officer.

The Legislature’s new session begins Jan. 11.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.