CIG Insider – Election Edition 2017

Historic Night

After a grueling campaign with heated debates and provocative commercials, this week, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy was easily elected to serve as New Jersey’s 56th Governor. Networks reported the early win for Murphy a minute after 8 p.m. – right after voting centers closed – and Guadagno conceded at 9:30 pm.  The likable Murphy garnered more than a million votes, winning by 16 points (56%-42%).
Governor-elect Murphy’s pick for Lieutenant Governor has again earned her place in New Jersey history. In 2014, Sheila Oliver became the first African-American woman to be elected Speaker.  She will now take decades of experience and political expertise with her to the executive branch as the second-highest ranking elected official in New Jersey, and the first African-American to serve in that role.  It was confirmed today that Lt. Governor-elect Oliver will also serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. She is the first appointment of the incoming Murphy administration.
All 120 of New Jersey’s legislative seats were up for election this past Tuesday.  Democrats increased their majorities in both houses. Next session they will control the Senate 25-15, and the Assembly 52-28.
In a major upset, challenger Vin Gopal defeated veteran Senator Jen Beck in the 11th legislative district.  The upstart Gopal ran an innovative, grassroots campaign, utilizing digital and cable advertising and relied on mostly individual contributions, ultimately enabling him to unseat the popular Red Bank lawmaker.
In District 2 it was predicted to be a close race between the incumbent Democrat Colin Bellwho replaced the late Jim Whelan, and Republican Chris Brown.However due to Brown’s name recognition and presence in Atlantic County, the race was not that close as he soundly defeated Bell by more than 4,000 votes.


Despite costly efforts to oust Senate President Sweeney in District 3, the NJEA’s backing of Fran Grenier proved to be insufficient, as Sweeney still won by 18 points.  This afternoon  Sweeney, along with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, were unanimously approved by their fellow members to again serve as Senate leaders when the 218th Legislature convenes in January, 2018.
Movers and Shakers
Governor-elect Murphy has tapped two respected Trenton veterans to lead his transition and front office operations.  Pete Cammarano, former chief of staff to Governor Dick Codey, is expected to be named Murphy’s chief of staff. Widely-known for his integrity, straightforwardness and political skill, Cammarano also served as Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Insurance and most recently was a partner at CLB, a Trenton-based public affairs firm.
Jose Lozano, chief of staff at Hackensack Meridian Health, will be executive director of Governor-Elect Murphy’s Transition Team. The first Latino to lead a transition team in New Jersey,  Lozano was the director of operations for former Governor Jon Corzine and served in the Obama administration as deputy chief of staff at the EPA.
Matt Platkin is expected to serve in the new Murphy Administration as Chief Counsel. A Stanford Law School grad, the erudite Platkin was head of policy for the gubernatorial campaign and an integral part of Murphy’s trusted inner circle.
Congratulations to Atlantic City Councilman Frank Gilliam Jr. who defeated one-term incumbent Mayor Don Guardian. Gilliam campaigned on re-establishing local control of the city’s day to day operations.
Longtime Camden official and Council President Frank Moran, has been elected to serve as Camden’s next Mayor. Endorsed by former Mayor Dana Redd, Moran’s longtime ties to the city and state, and well-known reputation, helped him secure his seat.
One of the most celebrated wins of election night was Ravi Bhalla, who was elected Hoboken’s next Mayor. Previously serving as a Councilman, Bhalla is the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey, and was endorsed by current Mayor Dawn Zimmer, after announcing that she would not be seeking re-election.
Also this Week….
Longtime Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-Atlantic) announced he will not run for reelection in 2018, after serving 12 consecutive terms.  Pundits believe that Democratic State Senator Jeff Van Drew(Cape May), whose popularity transcends partisanship in South Jersey, would have a clear path to victory in the reliably GOP district.
Governor Christie appointed Christopher Rinn, former Deputy Commissioner, as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services yesterday. Rinn replaces Cathleen Bennett, whose last day is today.  She will be replacing Betsy Ryan as president at the New Jersey Hospital Association.