The death of Gerald Cardinale on Saturday leaves Bergen County Republicans, at least for now, without a State Senator for the first time since 1968.
Republicans captured all five Bergen Senate seats after ousting four Democratic incumbents in the 1967 mid-term elections. While State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) has senatorial courtesy over seven Bergen County municipalities, there is no Republican senator with the ability block gubernatorial nominations for the rest of the county.
Until Republicans fill Cardinale’s seat next month, there is a narrow window for Gov. Phil Murphy and Democrats to move some appointments through in Bergen without Republican participation.
That could be good news for Dan Gumble.
Murphy nominated Gumble, the business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 164, to serve on the New Jersey Schools Development Authority board in September 2020.
Gumble, a Lyndhurst resident, has received signoff from the Democratic senators in Bergen County, but not from Cardinale.
The unwritten rule of senatorial courtesy allows a senator to effectively block a vote on a nomination from any nominee in their county, or from any municipality in their districts. Since courtesy doesn’t officially exist, it can’t be exercised by a deceased senator.
Something else: any Bergen County nominations that Cardinale signed off on but haven’t received a vote goes back to the starting point once a new senator is elected.
That potentially affects Bergen County Commissioner Thomas Sullivan, who was nominated to the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authorities in December 2020.
Sullivan, who served as councilman in Bergenfield and Montvale before winning countywide office, is also an IBEW Local 164 official.
Cardinale wasn’t necessarily opposed to Sullivan, who had been mentioned as a potential Democratic Senate candidate in the 39th district. It’s not clear whether the winner of a special election convention to fill Cardinale’s seat will sign off on Sullivan, incentivizing Democrats to move quickly to confirm him while their window remains simple.