Democratic sources say that Gov. Jon Corzine is seriously considering Joan Verplanck, the President of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce for the last fourteen years and a Republican, for Lt. Governor. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) is also reportedly in contention to become Corzine’s running mate.
Verplanck and the business advocacy group she heads have become closely allied with Corzine over the last few years. She angered Republicans by endorsing Corzine’s plan to raise tolls, causing some GOP legislators to call on local businesses to leave the group. Earlier this year, GOP gubernatorial candidates skipped the organization’s annual train trip to Washington, D.C., criticizing the traditional event that offered access to the state’s political leaders. Verplanck called the GOP protest “stupid.”
A career association executive, Verplanck ran the Morris County Chamber of Commerce for eight years before taking her state post. Prior to that, she ran chamber of commerce organizations in Rhode Island.
If Verplanck, a Pennington resident, is Corzine’s pick, she would become the first woman to be nominated by the Democrats for statewide office since Thelma Parkinson ran for a two-month unexpired term in the U.S. Senate in 1930.
Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer and Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) had been prominently mentioned as possible Corzine running mates, but sources say neither in under active consideration. Watson Coleman is focused on becoming Assembly Speaker when Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) retires in the future.