Dems elect Oliver as speaker, Cryan as majority leader

TRENTON — The Assembly Democrats today selected Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) as their new speaker and Joseph Cryan (D-Union) as the new majority leader.

Oliver replaces retiring Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden), while Cryan, who currently chairs the state Democratic Party, replaces Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Trenton), who until last week was still running an against-the-odds campaign to become the next speaker.

The vote formalized a deal that was struck in September between Essex County and South Jersey Democrats, agreeing to install Oliver – who just won her fourth term in office – in exchange for support to elevate Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) to the Senate Presidency over incumbent Richard Codey (D-Roseland). The lesser leadership positions will be decided later on.

“She’s not going away,” said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) about Watson-Coleman, a fellow Mercer County Democrat, after he emerged from the caucus room. “Being.. senior in her status in the assembly, she’s going to work with the new speaker on issues to help the party, to help New Jerseyans.”

The 11-term Roberts said that entering the lame duck days of his last term in office is "a little surreal" and "a little bit like an out-of-body experience."

Roberts said he has not finalized any future plans yet, but said he has absolutely ruled out running for the seat of state Sen. Dana Redd (D-Camden), who is leaving office to become mayor of Camden. Dems elect Oliver as speaker, Cryan as majority leader