On the race for Senate President

It's likely that no one has an accurate head count in the likely race for Senate President between incumbent Richard Codey (D-Roseland) and Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford). If the race is decided without the input of the Republican Caucus, twelve votes are needed to win – maybe.

The status of two Democratic Senators, as they relate to a leadership vote, is still undetermined. Dana Redd (D-Camden) is almost certain to win her bid to become Mayor of Camden. Since new dual office holding is no prohibited, she must resign her Senate seat upon taking the oath as Mayor on January 1. Since she will not be a member of the 214th Legislature that organizes on January 12, she is not expected to take part in a leadership election. Camden County Democrats might need to move Redd out of the Senate before January 1 so that her successor is seated in time to participate in the leadership election.

The issue with Weinberg is more complicated. If she wins her race for Lt. Governor, she would still be a Senator for the week between the legislative reorganization and the gubernatorial inauguration. (It's similar to Donald DiFrancesco leaving as Acting Governor a week before James E. McGreevey was sworn in because his term in the Senate had expired.) But Weinberg, as the Lt. Governor-elect, might be reluctant to take sides in the Codey/Sweeney fight. Like Redd, she could opt to leave the Senate early so that the new District 37 Senator could be in place.

As the current Democratic leader, Codey has the advantage of being the one to schedule the leadership election vote. And he can do so with the knowledge of a specific head count on a specific date. The special election conventions to replace Redd and Weinberg, if necessary, cannot occur less than seven days after the resignation date.

Senate sources suggest that Codey has nine solid votes: Nia Gill (D-Montclair), John Girgenti (D-Hawthorne), Robert Gordon (D-Fair Lawn), Ronald Rice (D-Newark), Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen), Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), Shirley Turner (D-Lawrenceville), and Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge). Sweeney is believed to have five certain votes: James Beach (D-Voorhees), Frederick Madden (D-Washington Twp.), Jefferson Van Drew (D-Dennis), and James Whelan (D-Atlantic City). A sixth vote would come from the new Senator from the fifth district; it is a safe assumption that Sweeney will figure out how to ensure that he has that vote.

Team Codey believes they have Robert Smith (D-Piscataway), while Sweeney backers say he is gettable for them. Some Democrats say Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) is for Codey, but others suggest that Scutari won't decide until after Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) figures out where he is. South Jersey Democrats view Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) as being for Sweeney, largely because her political mentor, Stephen Adubato, Sr., is said to be for him. But other Democrats say Ruiz is not a definite anti-Codey vote. Neither camp is sure where Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City), and Brian Stack (D-Union City) will wind up.

Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) said that the seventeen GOP Senators would vote as a block, and would be unlikely to become involved in internal Democratic politics. But the Senate Republican Caucus held a conference call for 3PM today, and some Senators are said to have disagreed with Kean's position. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown), the chairman of Christopher Christie's gubernatorial campaign, wants Republicans to keep their powder dry until after the general election. On the race for Senate President