Gov. Phil Murphy is replacing the only Latino member of the Rutgers University Board of Governors, as well as a key ally to Democratic powerbroker George Norcross, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Murphy will name Kevin Egan, a New Brunswick city councilman and the son of Assembly Labor Committee Chairman Joseph Egan, to replace Martin Perez.
Dr. Mohammad A. Zubair, a Scotch Plains pulmonologist and vice president of American Muslims for Democracy, will replace Susan McCue, a prominent Democratic fundraiser who once headed Norcross’ General Majority PAC.
The current board chairman, Mark Angelson, is the vice chairman of the Biden Foundation and a former deputy mayor of Chicago, has also been renominated by Murphy.
Zubair and Angelson will require Senate confirmation.
Perez once wielded considerable influence as the president of the Latino Leadership Alliance for sixteen years but lost favor with Democrats after supporting Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
That support came after the organization endorsed then-Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 against Christie. Corzine won the backing of the group after a close vote and Democrats suspected Perez of working behind the scenes to help Christie.
Christie’s initial nomination of Perez was controversial.
State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) used senatorial courtesy to block Perez, but Christie then used a direct appointment to bypass the confirmation process, PolitickerNJ reported at the time.
Senate President Steve Sweeney challenged Christie’s appointment of Perez, saying that the seat was set aside for a resident of Camden or Essex County under a 2012 restructuring of the Rutgers board.
A state appellate court ruled in 2014 that Perez’s appointment was legal.
In 2013, Sweeny blasted an Op-Ed written by Perez suggesting that Democrats would take the blame for a failure to enact a state version of the DREAM Act.
“Martin Perez claims to represent a group of people, [but] Martin Perez represents Martin Perez,” said Sweeney at the time.
Egan will have to give up his $20,051-per-year post on the Middlesex County Board of Taxation to obviate conflicts of interest with Rutgers’ extensive real estate holdings. The Rutgers Board of Governors job is unsalaried.
In 2013, Christie nominated South Jersey powerbroker William Tambussi to the Rutgers Board of Governors. Murphy renominated Tambussi, who is Norcross’ personal attorney, in January 2020.
Murphy also got his own pick: Amy Towers, a philanthropist who has donated millions to the Rutgers athletic program.
McCue, a New Jersey native who served as chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from 1999 to 2007, lives in Virginia.