The announcement today that Dr. Frederick Herrmann will retire after 23 years as Executive Director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission prompts speculation on his successor. While Herrmann had built a reputation as a non-partisan enforcer of campaign finance laws, his three predecessors came from political backgrounds – and while the new Executive Director will be named by the four ELEC Commissioners (two Democrats and two Republicans), it’s more likely that Gov. Jon Corzine will influence the process.
With some senior Star-Ledger reporters being offered buyouts, one possible candidate for Herrmann’s $125,000-a-year job is Robert Schwaneberg, who spent years covering state government, including the Judiciary and ELEC. Schwaneberg, the husband of New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Helen Hoens, is well-liked by Corzine and by Democratic and Republican leaders. One front office insider suggested that several soon-to-be former Star-Ledger reporters will find their way into the administration.
For extreme junkies: ELEC has had four Executive Directors: David Norcross, who was an aide to Gov. William Cahill when the commission was created (he later served as GOP State Chairman and was the 1976 Republican U.S. Senate nominee); Lewis Thurston, a Senate Republican staffer and later Chief of Staff to Gov. Tom Kean; and Scott Weiner, a Democratic operative who later served in Gov. Jim Florio’s cabinet.