For a few minutes this afternoon, Republican Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove) will be the Senate President – and second in the line of gubernatorial succession. When the Senate reorganizes at noon, State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Adubato) will move the nomination of O’Toole as the Temporary Senate President. O’Toole will then preside over the Senate until State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair) is elected President Pro-Tempore. Gill will run the Senate until the Senate votes on Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) as the new Senate President.
Noteworthy is that the gavel will essentially be passed from Richard Codey (D-Roseland) to O’Toole, a political rival from Essex County. It was Sweeney who decided that Codey would play no formal role in the Senate reorganization. By picking O’Toole, Sweeney also passed over the Senate Minority Leader, Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) for the honor of presiding over the Senate, albeit just for a few minutes. For politicians, these little things matter.
More significantly, Sweeney’s selection of O’Toole as Temporary Senate President is viewed as a tribute to the strong political alliance that exists between the two. O’Toole, even from the Republican side, played a role in helping Sweeney secure the votes to oust Codey in the recent leadership battle.