Once Kim Guadagno is sworn in as New Jersey’s first Lt. Governor on January 19, the number of times the Senate President and Assembly Speaker get to serve as acting governor will be substantially reduced. That will be especially true for the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Transportation, who each drop one notch in the line of succession. Senate President-designate Stephen Sweeney will only become acting governor – an honor that seems important to legislative leaders – if Gov. Christopher Christie and Guadagno are out of state at the same time. And Assembly Speaker-designate Sheila Oliver would be acting governor (the first Black woman to hold that post) if the first three are out of New Jersey.
It might be up to the outgoing governor, Jon Corzine, to decide if he wants to ensure that Sweeney and Oliver get to serve as Acting Governor. Sweeney and Oliver will assume their posts on January 12, during Corzine’s final week in office. Lately, Corzine hasn’t had much trouble finding a reason to leave New Jersey – something that has probably annoyed at least Janet Napolitano – so he could leave the state one more time so that Sweeney and Oliver can be assured of their acting governor status.
In 1962, Robert Crane, a Republican State Senator from Union County, was dying of cancer. His colleagues elected him Senate President at noon, and Democratic Gov. Robert Meyner drove across the bridge to Pennsylvania so that Crane could take the oath as acting governor. An hour later, Crane resigned as Senate President.
It won’t be as easy for Corzine as it was for Meyner: Corzine, in order to spend some nights in New York, obtained a ruling from his attorney general saying that there was no need for an acting governor to take over when the governor leaves the state for a brief time