When the Legislature passed the bill that initially proposed the creation of the Lt. Governor post, some Democrats jokingly referred to it as "Bonnie's Law" – a reference to the early front runner status of Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) as Gov. Jon Corzine's 2009 running mate. For the last 3 ½ years, news stories on the new LG post mentioned Coleman, an African American woman and a former Democratic State Chairman, as a top contender. Coleman is well-liked by the governor, and is a solid Corzine ally in the Legislature and in Democratic politics.
But even as Corzine launched a search for an African American running mate, the highest ranking Black and highest ranking woman in the Legislature received no real consideration for the post. Since claims that she was not interested in running for Lt. Governor are not especially credible, some insiders are left to wonder if Watson Coleman did not survive the vetting process and why.
A Corzine campaign spokesman said that Watson Coleman took herself out of contention.
"The Majority Leader took herself out of consideration immediately because she is most interested in maintaining her position within legislative leadership," said Sean Darcy. "She has been working directly with the Governor, along with Dick Leone and Assemblyman (Joseph) Cryan, during the review and selection process."
Some Democrats say that Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) is getting ready to move on, although a change in legislative leadership could still be a few years away. Watson is considered a potential candidate for Speaker after Roberts decides to retire.