Sources today tell InsiderNJ that Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-36) of Ridgefield is poised to step up as Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s replacement in the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office for Gurbir Grewal, Murphy’s choice to serve as the state’s attorney general.
A short-list candidate for lieutenant governor who lost to LG-elect Sheila Oliver, Caride is a prosecutor in West New York and has served in the assembly since 2012, notably as a member of the joint legislative committee investigating Bridgegate.
Another Bergen source disputed a Caride departure to inhabit Grewal’s seat, and said she would instead surface in the Murphy Administration.
Banking and Insurance, two sources said.
Her selection to replace Grewal – or to go to the administration – would have the appearance of Murphy trying to stop the (mild) bleeding with Latino activists, who had the expectation of Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez as attorney general.
Her departure would spark another Hispanic battlefront, however.
If Caride’s nomination goes through, South Bergen sources say veteran Bergen Freeholder Steve Tanelli would be a frontrunner in a contest to succeed her. A senior art director for Movado Group Inc. in Paramus, and former Director and member of the North Arlington Recreation Commission, Tanelli is a resident of North Arlington. There are other names, however, and they include: former Bergen Freeholder Bernadette McPherson, Cliffside Mayor Tom Calabrese, possibly Little Ferry’s Mauro Raguseo, Rutherford Councilwoman Stephanie McGowan, and South Hackensack Committeewoman Yris Encarnacion.
But because the Cuban American Caride entered the legislature as part of a post-2011 redistricting effort to create more opportunities for Hispanics, advocates will no doubt call for Caride’s replacement to be an Hispanic woman.
Township Committeewoman Encarnacion could find herself suddenly catapulted up the totem pole.
First elected in 2016, she stands among just a handful of Latina elected officials in the 36th, and a more obvious choice for the party owing to Assemblyman Gary Schaer’s (D-36) occupation of the City of Passaic, a largely Hispanic burgh and by far the biggest municipality in the 36th.
Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato lives in the district, specifically in the South Bergen portion, and might be reluctant to promote a second Passaic person.
Sources say it is difficult to picture Schaer and state Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36) – the latter of whom sat on the redistricting commission and personally undertook the search to find Caride – selecting a white male without suffering some blow back.
At present, Encarnacion could be an option if Caride departs to go countywide.
Schaer it is said, however, will make a serious effort to produce a Passaic City replacement.
On Thursday night, the push was already on for Cliffside Park – but based on sheer size and influence – to get the seat.
Most sources in Bergen agreed that Caride would go to the administration before surfacing as Grewal’s replacement.