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Governor Phil Murphy delivers his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address in the Trenton on March 13, 2018. OIT/Governor's Office.

Murphycrats and Sweeneycans

How the Senate President replaces votes the Governor takes

By David Wildstein, June 16 2018 6:05 pm


In the State Senate, there are Murphycrats and Sweeneycans.  Murphycrats are Democratic Senators who may be allied with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy; Sweeneycans are Republican Senators who maintain an informal alliance with Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Democrats have a 25-15 majority in the State Senate and Murphy needs to peel away five Democratic votes to stop Sweeney from reaching 21 – the number the Senate President needs to pass a budget in the upper house.  The Murphycrats are: former Gov. Richard Codey (D-Roseland), Nia Gill (D-Montclair), Ronald Rice (D-Newark), Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen), and Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence).  Gill and Turner are not exactly sure things, and Rice disagrees with Murphy on legalizing marijuana.  But for the fledgling Democratic governor, this is all he’s got.

If Sweeney loses all five, he’ll need to draw votes from the Sweeneycans: Dawn Addiego (R-Evesham), Christopher Bateman (R-Branchburg), Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), Steve Oroho (R-Franklin), and Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver).  Those Republicans are gettable for Sweeney, although he would need probably have to pull some items – like funding for Planned Parenthood – out of the package to add the Republican Senators.  That’s not a huge deal, since Sweeney can put that money back in the budget on a separate vote that the Murphycrats would vote for.

There may be a sixth Republican Senator out there for Sweeney: Michael Doherty (R-Oxford), who chaired Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in New Jersey.  Doherty’s top priority is school funding for his district, and sources say he might come along if the Senate President makes it worth his while.

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