State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) says he would exercise senatorial courtesy and block any nomination of a Port Authority Commissioner from Hudson County unless there is a public commitment that Kevin O’Toole will remain as chairman.
Stack’s comments follow a New Jersey Globe report that State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City) is pushing for the nomination of former Jersey City Corporation Counsel Jeremy Farrell as part of a package to fill of three open seats on the powerful bi-state authority.
“I would never in a million years support that unless O’Toole stays as chairman,” Stack said. “It’s a tremendous advantage for New Jersey to have him at the Port Authority. He’s the best person we’ve ever had there.”
Gov. Phil Murphy has not been able to get any of his allies on the Port Authority. His nomination of Amy Rosen, a Montclair Democrat who served on the New Jersey Transit board, has languished in the Senate for fourteen months.
Senate President Steve Sweeney is also an O’Toole supporter and has refused to move any Port Authority appointments unless Murphy commits to retaining the incumbent chairman.
Stack is a Murphy ally – he lost his seats on the Judiciary and Appropriations committees because of it – but clearly won’t hesitate to buck the governor to help O’Toole.
“I support the governor fully, by my word and my action,” Stack said. “But I support O’Toole one thousand percent.”
Stack said that the chairmanship “shouldn’t come down to party affiliation.”
“O’Toole transcends politics,” Stack said.
Stack and O’Toole became close when they served together in the Assembly. They both moved up to the Senate in 2007.
“There are very few people I consider a lifelong personal friend like him,” Stack said. “I would take a bullet for the guy.”