Essex chatter of former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) for lieutenant governor persisted last night at U.S. Rep. Donald Payne’s (D-10) fundraiser at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark.
Most Democratic Party sources say Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) has the best shot at serving as former Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy’s lieutenant governor based largely on her connection to Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie.
But the former speaker has her backers, who want Essex to have a bigger voice in what many of them say is most certain to be a Murphy Administration come 2018.
Although sources say Currie wields considerable influence with Murphy and has a political favor coming to him as a consequence of his having critically coalesced northern support for the ambassador, an Oliver LG candidacy would create powerful understory potential in Essex.
Currie’s executive director, East Orange Councilman Chris James, would be poised to move up to a 34th District assembly seat as Oliver’s replacement, as would Freeholder Brendan Gill of Montclair, who serves as Murphy’s key campaign strategist.