When Douglas Fisher becomes New Jersey’s new Secretary of Agriculture next week, Democratic County Committee members from the Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem county towns in the third legislative districts will meet to hold a special election convention to fill Fisher’s seat in the State Assembly. Expect Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) to play a decisive role in selecting Fisher’s replacement.
Sweeney, who is the most powerful Democratic office in southwestern New Jersey, and other party leaders, will need to decide if Cumberland County will keep the seat Fisher has held since 2001. Since Cumberland Democrats now hold two Assembly seats in the first district, some pundits believe that the seat could go to Salem County.
Salem is the only county in New Jersey without a seat in the Legislature. Salem has not had a legislator since Republican Assembly Speaker Jack Collins retired in 2001, and has not sent a Democrat to Trenton since Thomas Pankok lost to Collins in 1985.
It’s unlikely that Gloucester County, where Sweeney and Fisher are from, will get a third seat.