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Senate President Nicholas P. Scutari at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address delivered on March 8, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Scutari will become acting governor on Saturday

Murphy and Oliver will be out of state, leaving Senate President next in the line of succession

By David Wildstein, June 03 2022 12:57 pm

Senate President Nicholas Scutari  will serve as acting governor of New Jersey on June 4 while Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver are out of state.  He’ll  take the oath of office around 8 AM on Saturday and will serve until Oliver returns to New Jersey later that say.

Scutari, who is second in the line of succession, will become the first legislative leader to hold the acting governor post since Steve Sweeney did it for two days in 2017.

He will attend a dedication ceremony in Linden tomorrow morning to name  a street after his predecessor, the late State Sen. Joseph Suliga (D-Linden).   As acting governor, he’ll be joined by a political foe, Mayor Derek Armstead.

He’ll join State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) in Asbury Park to highlight a bill that permits pedicabs and the consumption of alcoholic beverages by pedicab passengers, and will be at Allaire State Park in Wall to sign an executive order declaring National Trails Day.

Sweeney’s first stint as acting governor in December 2010 led to a requirement by Gov. Chris Christie that his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, not be permitted to leave the state if he was away.

Christie had gone to Walt Disney World on a family vacation and Guadagno was out of state visiting her sick father when a snowstorm – the first major weather event of Christie’s governorship – put the fledging governor on the defensive.  He was heavily criticized for not returning to the state, and for leaving Sweeney, a Democrat, as the public face of the state.

Scutari became Senate President in January following the stunning defeat of Sweeney for re-election to his own State Senate seat in November 2021.

The 53-year-old Scutari launched his political career at age 25 when he won a seat on the Linden school board.  He served as a Union County freeholder before winning a State Senate seat in 2003.  He served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee before ascending to the senate presidency.

He’ll become the first acting governor from Union County since Donald DiFrancesco served as Senate President from 1992 to 2002.    DiFrancesco succeeded to the governorship in 2001 after newly-elected President George W. Bush nominated Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to a cabinet post.  DiFrancesco served the remaining eleven months of Whitman’s term.

During their time in office, an acting governor has the full constitutional authority of the office, including the ability to sign bills.

During his 84 ½ hours as acting governor in 2002, John O. Bennett III moved into Drumthwacket and even pardoned one of his campaign contributors.

Murphy is out of state on personal business and will return on Sunday evening.

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