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First Assistant Attorney General Andrew Bruck, left, with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, right and Division of Criminal Justice director Veronica Allende inspect the site of illegal dumping under Route 78 in February 2019. (Photo: Office of the Attorney General/Tim Larsen).

Nine possible attorney general candidates if Murphy gets a second term

Governor is expected to name Andrew Bruck as acting attorney general, possibly as early as Wednesday

By David Wildstein, June 29 2021 8:52 pm

Nine names are sitting on an early short list of potential candidates for Attorney General of New Jersey if Gov. Phil Murphy wins re-election, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Murphy is expected to name Andrew Bruck to serve as acting attorney general following the announcement that Gurbir Grewal will resign on July 26 to join the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  The pick could be announced as early as Wednesday.

The 38-year-old Bruck, who spent five years as the Justice Department before becoming First Assistant Attorney General in 2018, is also a possible candidate to keep the post in Murphy’s second term.

Alyana Alfaro Post, a spokesperson for the governor, indicated that Murphy will not nominate a replacement until after the election.

“The Governor will name an interim Attorney General this week to fill the remainder of the four-year term,” she said.

Other contenders include: former Murphy associate counsel Guillermo Artiles; Superior Court Judge Greta Gooden Brown; Bill Castner, a former chief counsel to Gov. Jon Corzine and a top advisor to Murphy; former Murphy chief counsel Matt Platkin; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamel Semper; former First Assistant Attorney General Ricardo Solano; acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens; and Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes.

Semper and Solano were among those under consideration to become the next U.S. Attorney, a job that will likely be filled before Murphy picks the new attorney general.

Artiles rejoined McCarter & English as a partner after serving on Murphy’s staff.  He was a corporate counsel at Greenskies Renewable Energy, a major solar energy developer, and was a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas.

Brown has served and as a Superior Court Judge since 2009 and an appellate court judge since 2016.  She is a former deputy attorney general and state Insurance Fraud prosecutor.  Brown was the runner-up for a seat on the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2020.

Castner, a partner at Connell Foley, served as senior advisor to Murphy on gun issues.  He was the Executive Director of the Assembly Majority Office before joining Corzine’s staff and later worked as senior vice president at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Platkin joined Murphy’s staff as chief counsel to the Governor in 2018 after playing a key policy role on the 2017 gubernatorial campaign.  He is a partner at Lowenstein Sandler.

Semper is currently the chief of the Organized Crime and Gangs section in the U.S. Attorney’s office.  He joined the federal prosecutor’s office in 2018 after spending ten years as an assistant prosecutor in Essex and Union counties.  He ran the Special Prosecutions Unit in Essex from 2013 to 2018.

Solano served as First Assistant state Attorney General from 2008 to 2010 and as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2007.  He is a partner at Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman.

Valdes became the first Latina prosecutor in the state when Corzine nominated her in 2009.  She served as a deputy attorney general, assistant U.S. Attorney and assistant counsel to Govs. Christine Todd Whitman and Donald DiFrancesco and Murphy recently renominated her for a third term as prosecutor.

Stephens has been the acting prosecutor since 2018.  He is a former Essex County Surrogate and East Orange Corporation Counsel and served as a municipal court judge in East Orange and Orange.

The New Jersey Globe first reported Grewal’s resignation on Wednesday.

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