Gov. Phil Murphy intends to nominate Burlington County Surrogate Mary Ann O’Brien, the last remaining Republican county official, to serve as a Superior Court Judge.
Murphy filed a notice of intent with the State Senate today.
If the Senate confirms O’Brien before September 10, it will trigger a special election for Surrogate November general election.
State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham) applauded the nomination.
“Her qualifications speak for themselves,” Addiego said. “I’m excited for her.”
“If it happens, I’m in her corner,” said Burlington County Republican Chairman Sean Earlen. “Mary Anne has been great for the party. She’s been a great public servant. I hope it works out for her.”
O’Brien was elected surrogate in 2016, defeating Democrat Sander Friedman by a 52%-48 margin. That was the last year Republicans won countywide elections in Burlington.
The incumbent, George Kotch, did not seek re-election. He had defeated Friedman by a 53%-47% margin in 2011.
She was elected freeholder in 2009, lost her seat in 2012, and was again elected in 2014.
O’Brien’s term in due to expire in 2021, but a special election would reset the clock and elect a surrogate for a five-year term later this year.
Under state law, Murphy would appoint an acting surrogate to replace O’Brien until the results of a special election are certified.
Both parties would be required to hold a special convention to pick nominees for the surrogate in November.
O’Brien would be Murphy’s second pick of a Burlington County woman for a judicial most in four days. On Friday, he nominated Fabiana Pierre-Louis of Mount Laurel to serve as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.