South Jersey alliance with Middlesex, Union, Cunningham, Stack and Weinberg makes Sweeney Majority Leader

Stephen Sweeney was elected Senate Majority Leader today, defeating Paul Sarlo. While technically the unanimous choice, Sweeney had the support of 14 Senators and Sarlo had the backing of 9.

Richard Codey was re-elected Senate President without opposition. Sweeney, a labor leader and Gloucester County Freeholder, becomes the first South Jerseyan to serve as Majority Leader since Daniel Dalton in 1991.

Codey, according to sources, proposed a delay in the Majority Leader vote – a move that was defeated by a 12-11 margin (with Loretta Weinberg as the deciding vote). Codey then proposed a vote by closed ballot; that motion was defeated by a larger margin.

According to information provided by several individuals who were part of the leadership election process, Sweeney’s fourteen votes came from the six South Jersey Senators, three Senators from Middlesex County, the two Senators from Union County, Sandra Cunningham and Brian Stack, and Weinberg.

A source says that Sarlo’s connection to the controversial EnCap project in Bergen County concerned some his Democratic colleagues – as did his tight relationship with lame duck Senator Joseph Coniglio, who is the target of a federal criminal probe. There are several Democrats who say that Codey pushed Sarlo’s candidacy.

There is considerable speculation that Codey has agreed to support Barbara Buono for the Senate Appropriations Committee chairmanship. South Jersey alliance with Middlesex, Union, Cunningham, Stack and Weinberg makes Sweeney Majority Leader