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George Helmy, Gov. Phil Murphy's Chief of Staff. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Helmy is back as Murphy chief of staff

Governor’s top advisor went off the payroll for last 18 days of the ’21 campaign

By David Wildstein, November 05 2021 12:22 am

George Helmy returned to his post as chief of staff to Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday after an 18-day absence to help get the governor re-elected.

Helmy had resigned his post in October, going off the state payroll entirely and separating himself from governmental decisions for the final days of the 2021 campaign.

Murphy, with a narrow but solid lead in his bid for a second term, has hired Helmy back.  While that had been widely expected, it was not official until Helmy filled out the same forms every new state employee does.

If the current election results hold, Helmy will become the first chief of staff to a two-term Democratic governor since Henry Luther III, a former Parsippany mayor who also took a leave of absence to run Gov. Brendan Byrne’s 1977 re-election campaign.

While Luther left later that year – state Corrections Commissioner (and former Mendham mayor) Robert Mulcahy  replaced him – Helmy is expected to stay into Murphy’s second term.

In between the two Helmy tenures, Zakiya Smith Ellis, Murphy’s top policy advisors, served as acting chief of staff.

Helmy was serving as U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s state director when Murphy named him chief of staff in February 2019.

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