Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has not yet announced if he’ll ask New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher to stay on. This is the only cabinet post not appointed by the Governor. The State Board of Agriculture (whose members are picked by the Governor) decides who will be the Secretary of Agriculture. It’s possible that Murphy could pick a fight with Sweeney by asking him to leave.
Fisher is a former Democratic Assemblyman who was first elected on a ticket with Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2001. He resigned from the Legislature when Gov. Jon Corzine approved the state board’s selection of him. Chris Christie was prepared to ask for Fisher’s resignation after he defeated Corzine in 2010, but decided to keep him on at the request of his sometimes ally, Sweeney. He lasted the full eight years of Christie’s term.
There has been no word that Fisher, who turned 70 last year, wants to stay on. From all accounts Fisher loves this job.
Fisher succeeded Charles Kuperus, a Republican who had served as a Sussex County Freeholder before Gov. Jim McGreevey affirmed the state board’s pick of him in 2002.
For those who want to fully understand the State Board of Agriculture, just know that four of the eight members must represent different agricultural commodities in the state. Right now, hay & grain farmers and vegetable growers each have two seats, with livestock, nursery, fruit and beekeeping occupying the other four. Five of the eight come from South Jersey.