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Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano and Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Cardinale signs off on Juliano nomination

Bergen Democratic Chairman appointment to Horizon BCBS board now heads to Sweeney

By David Wildstein, July 17 2020 1:57 pm

Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano is one step closer to winning Senate confirmation for a seat on the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Board of Directors.

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest), the lone Republican senator from Bergen County, today signed off on Juliano’s nomination.

Under the Senate’s unwritten rules of senatorial courtesy, Juliano needed the support of all four Bergen County senators before his nomination could move forward.  Democrats Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) and Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) have already signed off.

Juliano’s nomination is now in the hands of Senate President Steve Sweeney, who can either advance it to the Senate Judiciary Committee or hold on to it – either for an indeterminate amount of time or for the duration of the legislative session.

Gov. Phil Murphy nominated Juliano in June to replace Michele Brown, a former top aide to Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie has been pushing for Brown to keep the job as a holdover, something that occurs only if the State Senate declines to confirm Juliano.

The often-controversial Brown, a former federal prosecutor, came after Christie withdrew her nomination to a Superior Court judgeship during his final year as governor.

Brown has served as Christie’s appointments counsel, as the CEO of the Economic Development Authority, and later as the $450,000-a-year CEO of Choose New Jersey, a privately-funded group formed by Christie allies to help attract new businesses to the state.

In addition to her $76,000-a-year Horizon board post, Brown is the executive director of the non-profit Christie Institute for Public Policy

Sources close to Sweeney told the New Jersey Globe that the Senate President has no problem advancing Juliano for the post, and is willing to see Republican Michele Brown lose her job, but he wants Ballantyne gone too.

Ballantyne had been a top official of the northeast Regional Council of Carpenters and a supporter of Murphy’ 2017 gubernatorial campaign.

The Carpenters dissolved the local council to get rid of Ballantyne, who filed a now-settled whistleblower lawsuit.

Murphy named Ballantyne to chair the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Sweeney, a close political ally of Carpenters Union leader Frank Spencer, is seeking to link Ballantyne’s ouster with Juliano’s nomination.

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