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Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer. (Photo: New Jersey Democratic State Committee).

Prominent Democrats will appear before Judiciary panel this week

Peg Schaffer on path for Senate confirmation to Sports Authority seat

By David Wildstein, May 16 2023 11:01 am

Some familiar names nominated to state government posts by Gov. Phil Murphy will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, including Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer for a seat on the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Murphy had nominated Schaffer to the Sports Authority in February 2021 to replace Bob Yudin, a former Bergen County GOP chairman, but Republican State Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Oxford) used the unwritten rule of senatorial courtesy to block her.  Doherty resigned from the Senate late last year after his election as Warren County Surrogate.

Schaffer was renominated in March 2023, this time to succeed Andrew Scala.

Vincent Solomeno, a U.S. Army veteran and Army National Guard officer, is up for confirmation as the deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; he’s been serving as acting deputy commissioner since January.  Solomeno was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for State Senate against Republican Declan O’Scanlon in 2021.  This is one of the few deputy commissioner posts that requires Senate confirmation.

Zoe Baldwin, the New Jersey state director of the Regional Plan Association, will finally receive a Senate confirmation hearing for a seat on the South Jersey Transportation Authority.  Murphy nominated her in May 2022.   Baldwin was a transportation policy aide to U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Cory Booker, the government affairs director of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association, and the New Jersey State Director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Former New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Commission President Jeanne Fox is up for a seat on the Rutgers University Board of Trustees, and Michael DuPont, a longtime Democratic fundraiser, for another term as a New Jersey Turnpike Commissioner.

Murphy is expected to withdraw his nomination of Alixon Collazos-Gill or a seat on the Sports Authority if she wins the Democratic nomination for State Assembly next month.  Murphy nominated her last year, but State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair) has not signed off.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly listed former State Sen. Kip Bateman as blocking Shaffer.  It was Doherty. 

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