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Group tells Murphy to name Black woman as Oliver’s successor

David Wildstein, August 07 20232:48 pm

United Black Agenda, a grassroots group of social justice and civil rights leaders in New Jersey, is calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to appoint a Black woman to replace the late Sheila Oliver as lieutenant governor.

Oliver, the first Black woman to win a statewide election and the first Black woman to serve as Assembly Speaker, died on August 1 at age 71.

“As plans are being made for final services to honor the Lt. Governor’s life of public service, the most fitting tribute to her legacy would be to ensure that a Black woman succeed her and carry on her mission,” the group said.

Speaking for United Black Agenda are: Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer, Carolyn Chang, Vivian Cox-Fraser, Rev. Eric Dobson, Reva Foster, John Harmon, Jerome Harris, Ryan Haygood, Taiisa Kelly, Alexander McLucas, and Richard Smith.

Murphy has until September 15 to pick a new lieutenant governor. The decision belongs entirely to Murphy; this is a direct appointment not subject to Senate confirmation.

A small circle of people around Murphy began discussing possible replacements for Oliver shortly after her passing, but will not make any public announcements until funeral services end on Saturday.

As governor, Murphy has made racial and gender diversity a cornerstone of his legacy. Murphy may be inclined to follow his initial instincts from 2017 when he picked Oliver as his running mate.

“I wouldn’t think most of us will judge a governor’s entire record on appointments on the basis of a single pick, even a high-profile one. What’s important is for Governor Murphy to convince the public he is making the best possible selection he can,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “Having said that, it is often regarded as a step backward to wind up with fewer diverse perspectives than we had, and I would expect him to be sensitive to that, as he has consistently been throughout his time in office.”

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