Middlesex Versus Bergen: The Duel to Succeed Prieto as Speaker

Coughlin

Coughlin Assembly Majority Office

Following news this morning that Steve Sweeney won’t run for governor, will back Phill Murphy instead, and intends to purse another crack at the senate presidency, a steady drip of alliances began in support of the senate veteran.

State Senator Sandra Cunningham of Hudson and State Senator Paul Sarlo both backed re-upping Sweeney.

So are Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Paul Sarlo and senator Bob Gordon, all of Bergen.

They are all with Sweeney.

As reported first by PolitickerNJ, former Senate President Dick Codey made calls as recently as last week in support of his old friend and colleague, Senator Joe Vitale of Middlesex, to succeed Sweeney as Senate President.

But Sweeney getting out of the gubernatorial contest and backing Murphy for governor has other implications, namely for legislative leadership.

If Sweeney can outduel Vitale and retain his seat and South Jersey retains that portion of its power, and sources are correct in speculating that sitting Speaker Vincent Prieto of Hudson will get a landing spot at the Department of Community Affairs in a Murphy administration, sources say the duel for speaker comes down to Middlesex versus Bergen.

Middlesex wants Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, an attorney from Woodbridge.

Bergen wants Assemblyman Gary Schaer of Passaic.

Middlesex plans to shortly issue a statement of support for Murphy for Governor, with the express purpose of officially being the first big county to back him, ahead of a planned press conference by Passaic, Bergen and Hudson scheduled for this afternoon.

In return for getting it right, they want Coughlin as speaker.

Now, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter of Paterson has the pole position to be lieutenant governor, and Middlesex can make its case for Coughlin based on requiring some prize for having led on Murphy and kept its coalition  intact. Why should Bergen/Passaic get both LG and speaker?

But if Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato and Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie prove too much for Middlesex on the speaker front, Middlesex can perhaps salvage something by picking LG perhaps.

If the North lines up with Schaer, maybe the play becomes Vitale for LG.

South Jersey Democratic Leader George Norcross III is said to be on an anyone-but-Schaer stampede, however.

Advantage: Coughlin.

It’s volatile.

ASSEMBLYMAN GARY SCHAER. The chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee from Passaic is on a short list of people to succeed Prieto as speaker.

ASSEMBLYMAN GARY SCHAER. The chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee from Passaic is on a short list of people to succeed Prieto as speaker. Assembly Majority Office

Middlesex Versus Bergen: The Duel to Succeed Prieto as Speaker