Corzine and Christie reach agreement on nominations

Outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine and Gov.-elect Christopher Christie have broken a long impasse on appointments and nominations that has troubled the gubernatorial transition, Corzine announced today.

“The Governor-Elect and I concur that incoming and outgoing administrations should identify their priority appointments and come to an amicable and balanced agreement, and that’s exactly what we’ve done here,” said Corzine in a statement.

The agreement, which has been in the works for about one week, essentially keeps current members of the state’s important policy-making boards and agencies – some of whom have deep political connections – on holdover status until Christie takes office on January 19. Corzine has agreed not to make any new appointments. 

Those agencies include the Board of Public Utilities, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Turnpike Authority, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, New Jersey Transit, the Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield Board of Trustees, the State Investment Council, and the Council on Affordable Housing. 

The reappointment of several officials has become a sticking point between Corzine and Christie.  Sports and Exposition Authority Chairman Carl Goldberg was re-nominated by Corzine last month, but he will now remain on holdover status until after Christie takes office.  The same goes for labor leader Ray Pocino, who Corzine re-nominated to the Port Authority in December, and South Jersey Bishop David Evans, a political ally who Corzine re-nominated to the Turnpike Authority, among others.

In turn, Christie will disourage Republican senators from holding up other nominations through the unwritten rule of Senatorial Courtesy.

Although Corzine was criticized for failing to fill hundreds of vacancies until the last minute, Corzine’s allies have argued many were held up by Republicans. 

“The agreement further recognizes that many current board, judicial, and prosecutorial vacancies resulted from qualified candidates being blocked and that obstructionism should not be rewarded,” said Corzine,” who said it also “keeps in place a fundamental principle with respect to judicial and prosecutorial appointees that I have practiced and that Governor-Elect Christie has endorsed during these discussions: that integrity, professional excellence, and reasoned temperament are the most appropriate considerations. The selection process for judges and prosecutors should be conducted independently from consideration of board and commission appointments.”

In a statement, Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella emphasized the part of the agreement that allows Christie to decide on the nominations for important agencies. 

“From the beginning, Governor-elect Christie has maintained that it is imperative key policy making boards and commissions are led by individuals who are ready to effectively execute the incoming administration’s vision,” she said.  “These key entities are instrumental to addressing our state’s many challenges and part of a Christie administration’s comprehensive approach to achieving real change.  We are pleased that Governor Corzine understands the importance of these policy making entities and that Governor-elect Christie will be able to put together a team critical to fixing New Jersey’s dire fiscal situation.”

Corzine and Christie reach agreement on nominations