Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson remains the leading candidate to become Jon Corzine’s Chief of Staff when Bradley Abelow leaves. Speculation of Abelow’s departure has persistsed for the last six months, but sources close to the administration say the former Goldman Sachs partner will most certainly be gone by the end of the year. Democratic insiders say that Maggie Moran, Corzine’s politically savvy Deputy Chief of Staff for the last four years (and State Director when he was in the Senate) will leave state government to become manage the Governor’s re-election campaign.
If Jackson moves to the Governor’s office, Corzine will need to appoint a new Commissioner to run the DEP. Possible candidates include: Adam Zellner, the Governor’s policy director who has served as DEP Assistant Commissioner and ran the Highlands Council and the state Smart Growth office; Eileen Swan, the Executive Director of the Highlands Council and a former Mayor of Lebanon; Highlands Council Chairman John Weingert, the Associate Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and a veteran DEP staffer under two Democratic Governors and two Republicans; Jennifer Godoski, a former Democratic operative who is now Deputy DEP Commissioner for Policy and Legislative Affairs; John Watson, the Deputy DEP Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources, and the brother of Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman; and State Sen. Robert Smith (D-Middlesex), the Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee.
There has also been speculation that Abelow won’t depart the front office empty handed: some Democrats say he could be named Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to replace Anthony Coscia — although that is clearly just speculation at this point.