Replacing Bob Menendez (if he is ruled out or resigns) with Jay Lassiter


The race to replace Bob Menendez in the US Senate is in full swing. And that includes Menendez’s latest corruption trial. So what happens if Menendez cannot complete his full term, which ends in January 2025?

The ability to single-handedly fill an unexpected vacancy in the U.S. Senate is one of the many reasons why NJ’s governorship is considered the most powerful in the country.

It actually happened quite recently.

Maybe you remember when NJ Governor Chris Christie sent his Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to the US Senate after Senator Frank Lautenberg died?

So if Bob Menendez goes to prison before January 2025 (or resigns as part of a plea deal), NJ Governor Phil Murphy may fill the seat with a caretaker to complete Menendez’s term.

It’s quite a plum to hand out, don’t you think?

So who gets the nod if Menendez leaves early?

Tammy Murphy

The governor’s wife launched her campaign to replace Bob Menendez shortly after Menendez’s latest indictments became public. But Ms. Murphy fared poorly in the Democratic primary, which overwhelmingly favored Congressman Andy Kim. Would the governor play the nepotism card so soon after his wife’s resounding rejection by the Democratic primaries?

Of course he would. In a white-hot nanosecond.

And that’s why Tammy Murphy will likely get the nod if this U.S. Senate seat opens up.

Tahesha Road

When Governor Murphy’s Lieutenant Governor Shiela Oliver passed away, Murphy selected Tahesha Way as Oliver’s replacement. Way is also Murphy’s Secretary of State for the NJ elections, among other things.

If Tahesha Way wins the nomination for the U.S. Senate, it will open up a spot for lieutenant governor, and yet another vacancy for Governor Murphy to fill.

So two plums in one.

Jeannine LaRue

Jeannine LaRue is a close ally and confidant of both the Governor and Ms. Murphy and has been a longtime Trenton insider. Governor Murphy talks a lot about identity politics, and his appointments sometimes reflect his commitment to elevating more blacks, more gays, and more women.

NJ Dems talk a lot about LGBTQ rights, especially this time of year. But when it comes to actually electing queer people, Democrats in New Jersey are falling woefully short, as evidenced by the lack of LGBTQ voices currently in power. The most powerful Democratic machines in the state — Camden, Middlesex, Hudson — have done virtually nothing to nurture and promote LGBTQ talent.

Thus, appointment to office may be the most realistic path for aspiring LGBTQ politicians in NJ.

Christian Fuscarino

Christian Function, executive director of Garden State Equality since 2016, was still new to the fold when Murphy was elected governor in November 2017. Since then, Fuscarino has been one of Murphy’s more trusted and loyal allies, never missing an opportunity to reinforce the governor’s words and actions. For example, when Murphy was eager to reshape NJ’s election watchdog in his image, most allies fervently urged him to reconsider.

Ultimately, and with Fuscarino’s help, Murphy got what he wanted.

Appointing America’s first openly gay U.S. senator would be an added boost for Murphy, who seems to relish breaking barriers with his appointments.

Loretta Weinberg

Loretta Weinberg, the godmother of New Jersey’s progressive community, is a perfectly suited candidate to become a substantive caretaker if this U.S. Senate seat opens up.

Senator Weinberg may be a little too stubborn to get the nod.

Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer

A spiritual and political powerhouse, Charles Boyer has always been the conscience of New Jersey’s cannabis reform movement. Rev. Boyer, a multi-faceted leader whose ministry extends far beyond the walls of Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Trenton, is perhaps New Jersey’s most trusted and respected voice on social justice issues that extend far beyond the drug policy debate.

Matt Platkin

Matt Platkin is one of Phil Murphy’s most trusted advisors. Platkin also happens to be NJ’s 62nd Attorney General, which means that if he gets the nod to replace Menendez, Murphy gets to appoint a new AG.

So another double plum.

Dianne Houenou

Dianna Houenou is perhaps the most decent and ethical person in New Jersey politics.

Ms. Houenou, chairman of New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, exudes a principled politics that is all but extinct in the Garden State. Her glowing intellect and especially her advocacy for the underdogs have served the people of New Jersey extremely well.

When Murphy appointed her to the CRC, many called it the best appointment he had ever made. That’s probably still true.

Jay Lassiter is a writer based in Cherry Hill. When he’s not berating Trenton’s legislators for their stupidity, he’s probably trying to get the government out of your pipe.

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