Corzine moves to keep BPU under Dem control until 2012

Republicans are not in a position to stop Gov. Jon Corzine from nominating Kenneth Esser, his top advisor on energy issues, to the state Board of Public Utilities. Esser lives in New Brunswick and no GOP Senators have courtesy over his nomination. Esser will replace Frederick Butler, a Democrat, on the BPU, and give the Democrats a 3-2 majority on the regulatory board until Joseph Fiordaliso’s seat comes up in 2012.

Butler, a former Executive Director of the Assembly Democratic office, lives in Somerset County. Republican State Sen. Christopher Bateman could have blocked him, although Democrats have been saying all year that Butler was going to be replaced even if Corzine won re-election.

State law permits the governor to name the BPU president, even if the governor’s party does not have a majority on the board. That means Gov.-elect Christopher Christie will need to choose between Elizabeth Randall, a former Assemblywoman and state Banking and Insurance Commissioner, and former State Sen. Nicholas “I Caught Something”Asselta. Bet on Randall.