TRENTON – A fractured Democratic Party presided solemnly over a reorganization meeting at the War Memorial this afternoon as the puzzle pieces of a powerful north-south alliance tried to keep the ceremony taped together under the watchful eye of former Speaker Joe Roberts.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), Sayreville, occupied the emcee position at the podium onstage and observed a moment of silence for the late Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-26).
Under the pomp and circumstance, onstage absences on the D Team screamed caucus havoc.
Notably gone were Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27), stripped of his environmental committee chairmanship last week – much to his chagrin; and former Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan (D-20).
The two were insurrectionary casualties in a speaker’s fight last year.
An undersheriff in Union County, Cryan had a series of civil service interviews to attend today.
“Set up well before the new date,” he told PolitickerNJ.com. “I plan to try to make the speech.”
Others on the no-show list included Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (D-18), Assemblyman Pete Barnes (D-18), Assemblyman Upendra Chivikula (D-17), and Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-31).
A brass band did its best to set the mood but gloom hung over the event on a sopping wet January day in Trenton.
Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) swore in Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-30), a redistricting casualty, who formally surfaced in the lower chamber after four years as a state senator.
Onstage with a big family contingent, Assemblyman Benji Wimberly (D-35) received rousing applause from the crowd. He’s seen as a lynch pin figure in a developing conflagration between Democratic Primary opponents U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell in the 9th District.
A GOTV political animal in Paterson, Wimberly backs Pascrell.