Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood) is under consideration for a seat on the Board of Public Utilities, according to several Democratic sources familiar with her interest in the state post. The speculation seems to have annoyed her Republican opponent, former Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, who could face a replacement candidate for the second time in six years. There has been talk of Stender's interest in a pension boosting job since she lost a bid for Congress last year by nine percentage points for an open seat she nearly won two years earlier.
Marks and his running mate, Bo Vastine, have asked Gov. Jon Corzine not to appoint Stender to the BPU. "By being complicit in this quid pro quo to get a politician in danger of being voted out of office a cushy state job, you would directly contradict the two priorities you set for yourself upon becoming governor," Marks wrote in a letter to the Governor. We ask you not to abet yet another end run around the electoral process, like those we saw in the 2002 Lautenberg for Torricelli U.S. Senate candidate switch and the 2003 Scutari for Suliga State Senate candidate switch that occurred right here in the 22nd district. If such a switch occurs again — this time connected to the promise of a lucrative state job for Mrs. Stender — the citizens of New Jersey and especially here in the 22nd Legislative District will not accept any reason other than New Jersey politics as usual."
Republicans can stop the appointment of Stender, if Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) refuses to sign off on her nomination. Kean has senatorial courtesy over Union County appointments that require Senate confirmation.
The seat that Stender wants is currently held by Frederick Butler, a former Executive Director of the Assembly Democratic staff.
Marks was the GOP candidate for State Senator in 2003 when Joseph Suliga dropped his re-election bid and was replaced by Nicholas Scutari.