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Gov. Phil Murphy, left, with Kevin O’Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

O’Toole re-elected Port Authority chairman

Ex-GOP senator has impenetrable lock over powerful bi-state transportation chairmanship

By David Wildstein, February 13 2020 1:15 pm

Kevin O’Toole was re-elected to another term as chairman the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, leaving the former Republican senator at the helm of the powerful bi-state agency two years into Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s term.

Murphy was unable to get his choice for an open commissioner seat confirmed by the State Senate.

His nominee, former New Jersey Transit board member Amy Rosen, was nominated in May 2018 to replace Caren Turner, who resigned after an incident with a badge.  Rosen’s nomination expired last month when the Legislature reorganized.

The quest to fill three open Port Authority seats is hugely complicated and shows the outsized influence Senate President Steve Sweeney has over Murphy’s ability to get even one Port Authority appointment.

Last July, when it looked as though Murphy might move on package of Port Authority appointments, Democratic State Sens. Brian Stack (D-Union City), Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), Joe Lagan (D-Paramus) and Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) quickly made it clear that they would not support any nominees without a commitment that O’Toole would remain.

That have O’Toole an impenetrable lock on the chairmanship of an agency whose operating and capital budget are larger than those controlled by six U.S. governors.

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