A Republican lawmaker will resign today to take a job in Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.
State Sen. Christopher Brown (R-Ventnor) will start work tomorrow as a senior advisor for Atlantic City Affairs at the state Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services.
WPG Talk Radio personality Harry Hurley first reported Brown’s new post and first mentioned the possibility of Brown’s departure several months ago.
Brown announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election to a second term in the Senate, and Democrats are seeking to flip the seat in the 2nd district, one of the most competitive in the state. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (R-Northfield) faces Republican Vince Polistina, a former GOP assemblyman, in the general election.
Republicans have until August 23 to fill the remaining five months of Brown’s term, and Polistina is expected to become the interim senator. But the Senate is now adjourned until after the November 2 election and it’s unlikely that Senate President Steve Sweeney will swear in Polistina until then.
Brown will start his $150,000-a-year job tomorrow and work with Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, the community affairs commissioner.
“Chris is deeply committed to improving the lives of those who call Atlantic City home, and he will be a tremendous asset for the Administration as we further strengthen the Atlantic City economy and improve quality of life,” Murphy said. “I look forward to working together to address issues like economic growth and public safety. With Chris in this new role, and with Sheila at the helm of DCA, the future of Atlantic City has never looked brighter.”
Brown’s new position will include responsibility for enhancements of public safety and social services and the diversification of the city’s economy and job creation efforts.
“I couldn’t think of a more qualified person to join DCA to assist with furthering the State’s efforts in Atlantic City,” said Oliver “Chris has been a strong partner in our ongoing work in South Jersey. I look forward to working together to continue to stabilize the City’s finances, strengthen and diversify the economy, and tackle longstanding challenges such as poverty, unemployment, public safety, and public health.”
The Murphy administration is committed to retaining Brown on a long-term basis if he wins re-election, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Brown is a retired U.S. Army major. He served in the Persian Gulf War as a decorated combat veteran during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
He was elected to the State Assembly in 2011 and was running for an open Senate seat in 2017 when the incumbent, James Whelan, died in office. The Democratic Senate candidate, Colin Bell, was appointed to the Senate, but Brown defeated him by 3,544 votes, a 53.5% to 46.5% margin.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. issued a statement praising Brown.
“I know local families have faith in Chris because he is a strong advocate who always fights for Atlantic City’s success. He has demonstrated a passionate commitment to his constituents and an unwavering desire to always do the right thing for the right reasons,” Kean said. “While we will miss Chris in the Senate, knowing he has already decided not to seek re-election, we respect his choice to continue to serve the families of Atlantic County immediately and directly. We wish Chris and his family all the best.”