Senators scramble for Adler’s judiciary chairmanship

At least three State Senators want to succeed U.S. Rep.-elect John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) as chairman of the power Judiciary Committee, a decision that will be made by Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex).

Sources say state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair), and Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), want to succeed Adler, while two other senators with legal cred say they’re satisfied with their present chairmanships and don’t want to make a play for judiciary chair.

“It would be an interesting chairmanship,” admitted state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen). “But I can’t imagine a more challenging chairmanship than the budget committee, and right now with the economy what it is, I would like to stay focused.”

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), who already serves on the judiciary committee, said he’s likewise not budging from his current chairmanship of economic development.

“I like economic development committee better (than judiciary), particularly now given the challenges,” Lesniak said.

Codey wouldn’t discuss the matter just yet, and doesn’t anticipate addressing the vacancy until the end of the month.

Both lawyers, Scutari and Gill would appear to have the edge on Sarlo, who doesn’t have a law degree.

"I am definitely interested,"Scutari told"But, of course, it's not my decision. It's the decision of the Senate President."

Codey said today that he doesn’t think possession of a law degree should necessarily be a pre-requisite for the job of judiciary chair.

Two other Democrats on the committee are unlikely to try to succeed Adler, sources say: state Sen. John Girgenti (D-Hawthirne), who serves as vice chair of the judiciary committee, and state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway), a lawyer who already serves as chair of the environment committee.

Senators scramble for Adler’s judiciary chairmanship