Home>Education>Murphys’ pick for Education commissioner has moved, and a Republican senator now has courtesy over her nomination

Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan was nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy as the new Commissioner of Education on October 20, 2020. (Photo: Edwin Torres/Governor’s Office.)

Murphys’ pick for Education commissioner has moved, and a Republican senator now has courtesy over her nomination

Allen-McMillan moved to Cedar Grove two months ago, but Corrado was never told that cabinet nominee was now her constituent

By David Wildstein, May 23 2021 3:43 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s pick for Commissioner of Education was expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, but circumstances have changed after her move to Cedar Grove two months ago.

The seven-month confirmation journey of Angelica Allen-McMillan will now continue after her change of residency gives a Republican, State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), senatorial courtesy over her nomination.

Murphy nominated Allen-McMillan last October.  Official records of her nomination still reflect a Montclair residency.

In March, Allen-McMillan sold her home in Montclair and purchased one in Cedar Grove, according to deeds and mortgage documents she filed in Essex County.  She has also registered to vote in Cedar Grove, records show.

It’s not immediately clear whether Allen-McMillan notified the Governor’s office about her move to Cedar Grove.

Corrado said she was unaware that Allen-McMillan is now a resident of the 40th legislative district.

“That’s news to me,” Corrado told the New Jersey Globe on Sunday.  “I did not know that. I’m really surprised.”

The Republican senator said Allen-McMillan called her a few months ago to discuss her nomination, but said her recollection was that the commissioner-designate was from Montclair.

“I have not received any updated questionnaire telling me that she lives in my district,” said Corrado.

Under the unwritten but fiercely enforced rules of senatorial courtesy, all senators who live in a nominee’s home county – plus any senator who represents the hometown of the nominee – must sign off before the Senate holds a confirmation vote.

As a Montclair resident, four Democratic senators from Essex County – Nia Gill (D-Montclair), Richard Codey (D-Roseland), Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) and Ronald Rice (D-Newark) — needed to sign off on her nomination.  All have now done so.

But Allen-McMillan’s move now complicates her confirmation.   The only Essex County municipality Corrado represents is Cedar Grove, and Allen-McMillan must now get the Republican lawmaker’s approval before the Judiciary Committee will schedule a confirmation hearing.

Corrado told the NJ Globe that she is not ready to sign off on Allen-McMillan.

“I want to see the updated questionnaire,” she said.

That is expected to happen on Monday.

Had the Senate approved her nomination without knowing that another senator had courtesy, it might have created a decent-sized war between the legislative and executive branches.

A spokesman for Murphy declined to comment on Allen-McMillan’s new residency status.

The Department of Education has been without a Senate-confirmed commissioner since July 1, when Lamont Repollet left to become the president of Kean University.   Repollet’s hiring at Kean was announced in March 2020 and it took Murphy seven months to settle on Allen-McMillan, who has been acting commissioner since October.

It’s unusual for a cabinet nominee to complicate their confirmation process by moving to a place where a senator from a different party has jurisdiction, but it has happened the other way around.

In 1981, Gov. Brendan Byrne nominated Joel Jacobson, a hugely powerful labor leader from South Orange to the Casino Control Commission.  A Republican senator from Essex County, James Wallwork (R-Short Hills), used courtesy to block the nomination.

Jacobson instead moved to Ocean County, where Democratic State Sen. John Russo (D-Toms River) agreed to sign off on his nomination.

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