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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Help Wanted: Chief of Staff to Governor

Cammarano expected to return to private sector

By David Wildstein, December 10 2018 11:06 am

Gov. Phil Murphy is now shopping for a new chief of staff to replace Pete Cammarano, who will step down early next year.

Cammarano is expected to return to the private sector, although not necessarily to his old lobbying firm, CLB Partners.  There is some speculation that Cammarano is headed to River Crossing Strategy Group, the firm headed by Eric Shuffler, a former top aide to Gov. James E. McGreevey and U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli.

From the time that he leaves state government, Cammarano faces a one-year ban on lobbying state agencies. In New Jersey, there are work-arounds to most restrictions.

Shuffler’s name has been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Cammarano, although it’s not clear how interested he would be.  He has served as an informal advisor to Murphy from time to time.

At this point, who Murphy will pick as his new chief of staff is highly notional.  There is no heir apparent and no obvious choice.  Some insiders believe the governor intends to go outside his administration, possibly bringing in someone from Washington or Wall Street.

Possible candidates from within his team include chief counsel Matt Platkin, chief policy advisor Kathleen Frangione and deputy chief of staff Joe Kelley.

Murphy has the option of designating an interim chief of staff, if he can’t figure out a successor before Cammarano departs.  Ideally, the governor wants someone who will stay at least through the 2020 budge.

Changing chief of staff after the first year is not uncommon.  Gov. Tom Kean sent Lewis Thurston to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority at the end of 1982 and replaced him with Greg Stevens, a former newspaper reporter who had worked for Kean in the 1970’s.  Kean won re-election with 70% of the statewide vote.

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