Amid speculation about delays in the wake of yesterday's federal corruption bust, sources say Gov. Jon Corzine has offered the job of candidate for lieutenant governor to state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), and that she has accepted.
The statewide Democratic Party running mates intend to proceed with an official team roll-out tomorrow, Saturday,at 2 p.m. in the Bergen Performing Arts Center.
A maverick Democrat in her Bergen County,Weinberg championed government transparency and ethics reform, and took on the powerful leader of her own party, Joseph Ferriero. Ferriero was indicted on federal corruption charges last year and his trial is scheduled to begin in the fall.
Corzine's Republican challenger, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, filed the charges against Ferriero.
As reently as yesterday, Corzine seemed prepared to pick Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), but Buono's stardescended after federal prosecutors arrested a multitude of elected and appointed public officials yesterday. Corzine also accepted the resignation of his Community Affairs Commissioner, Joseph Doria, whose house was seached as part of the probe.
Weinberg'slong-running feud with Ferriero boosted her chances against Buono, who had ties to former Senate President and Middlesex County Democratic leader John Lynch. Christie also prosecuted Lynch, who is finishing his sentence now in a Newark halfway house.
A74-year-old grandmother, Weinberg was Corzine's campaign co-chair when he made his first bid for public office as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2000. She was also an early supporter of Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Weinberg also had several key endorsements, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and received the blessing of the Bergen County Democratic Organization and some key party leaders who have fought with her in recent years.
She served in the State Assembly for fourteen years until her election to the Senate in 2005. A former Teaneck Councilwoman and Assistant Bergen County Administrator, Weinberg served as Assembly Majority Conference Chair and as Chair of the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee.
Earlier this year, Weinberg revealed that she had lost her life savings – more than $1 million – as a victim to Bernard Madoff's ponzi scheme. She had her money invested with Beverly Hills financial planner Stanley Chais, who had invested her entirely with Madoff, whom Weinberg says she had never heard of before the scandal became public.
Reality TV star Randal Pinkett was also in the running for LG,, but his candidacy faced considerable opposition from party insiders who felt he lacked the experience to run statewide.