That time NJ had 5 governors in one week
With Governor Phil Murphy out of the country Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver was supposed to be serving as acting governor. Then she fell ill and is for being treated at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. As order of succession goes, Senate President Nick Scutari therefore became acting governor.
Tragically, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver then passed away at 71. Suddenly Gov. Murphy announced he was cutting his summer trip to Italy short and returning to the Garden State. This leaves Scutari remaining for now as acting governor until Murphy returns. The constitution requires Murphy to appoint Oliver’s successor within 45 days.
The entire thing reminded me of a bizarre time in our state’s history when we had five governors in one week.
Here’s how it happened.
Back when Christine Todd Whitman was governor there was no such position as Lt. Governor in New Jersey.
So when she resigned, with about a year left in her term to join President George W. Bush’s administration, Donald DiFrancesco as senate president served as acting governor that last year.
On Jan. 8, 2002, Jim McGreevey had already been elected as the new incoming governor but he wouldn’t be sworn in until January 15.
And Di Francesco’s senate term ended on January 8, therefore he could no longer serve as acting governor.
So, the morning of the 8th began with DiFrancesco as governor, followed by a 90-minute period where state Attorney General John Farmer became acting governor by rules of succession.
That lasted only long enough for Democrat Richard Codey and Republican John O. Bennett to be elected and sworn in as co-presidents of the Senate.
Through an agreement, the two men split the acting governor duties, with Bennett taking January 8 (the third acting governor in one day) through the 12.
Then, Codey would serve as acting governor from January 12 to January 15.
At that point, McGreevey was sworn in and took over.
In a one-week period, New Jersey had five different governors. Now you know.
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