Paul Sarlo, a three-term State Senator with close ties to indicted Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero appears to be the leading candidate for chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to sources close to Senate President Richard Codey, who has not made a final decision on one of the state’s most powerful committee chairmanships. Codey must decide by January who will replace John Adler, who was elected to Congress.
Earlier this month, Democratic sources were saying that the favorite for Judiciary was Nicholas Scutari, and that Nia Gill, an Essex County Democrat, was not going to receive serious consideration.
If Sarlo gets Judiciary, he’ll become the first non-lawyer to chair the panel since the 1970’s, when tradition dictated that the Senate Majority Leader, who served a one-year term, also chaired Judiciary.
Last November, Sarlo mounted an unsuccessful bid for Majority Leader, dropping out when a head count showed him losing 14-9 to Stephen Sweeney. Sources at the time suggested that Sarlo’s connection to the controversial EnCap project in Bergen County concerned some his Democratic colleagues – as did his tight relationship with outgoing State Sen. Joseph Coniglio, who was the target of a federal criminal probe and has since been indicted. Sarlo reportedly had the backing of Codey in his race against Sweeney.