Who Replaces Menendez if He’s Expelled or Resigns? Phil Murphy Decides

The race to replace Bob Menendez in the US Senate is well underway. And so is Menendez’ latest corruption trial. So what happens if Menendez can’t finish his full term which ends in January, 2025? 


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

It’s happened quite recently, in fact.

Perhaps you recall 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 jail (or resigns as part of a plea bargain) anytime before January, 2025, NJ Governor Phil Murphy gets to fill the seat with a caretaker to round out Menendez’ term.

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

So who might get the nod if Menendez leaves early?

Tammy Murphy

The Governor’s wife launched her campaign to replace Bob Menendez shortly after Menendez’ latest indictments went public. But Mrs. Murphy fared poorly with democratic primary voters who overwhelmingly favored Congressman Andy Kim. Would the Governor play the nepotism card so soon after the resounding repudiation of his wife by democratic primary voters?

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

And that’s why Tammy Murphy will probably get the nod if this US Senate seat opens up.

Tahesha Way

When Gov. Murphy’s Lt. Governor Shiela Oliver passed away, Murphy picked Tahesha Way as Oliver’s replacement. Way is also Murphy’s Secretary of State in change of, among others things, NJ’s elections.

If Tahesha Way get the nod for US Senate, that opens up the Lt. Governor spot, yet another vacancy Governor Murphy gets to fill.

So two-plums-in-one.

Jeannine LaRue

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

On LGBTQ rights, NJ Dems talk a good game, especially this time of year. But when it comes to actually electing queer people, New Jersey Democrats fall woefully short as evidenced by the dearth of LGBTQ voices currently in office. The most powerful democratic machines in the state — Camden, Middlesex, Hudson — have done practically nothing to nurture and promote LGBTQ talent.

So an appointment to office might be the most realistic path for aspiring LGBTQ politicians in NJ.

Christian Fuscarino

The executive director of Garden State Equality since 2016, Christian Function was still new-ish to the roll when Murphy was elected Governor in November of 2017. Since then, Fuscarino has been one of Murphy’s more trusted and loyal allies, never missing an opportunity to ratify the Governor’s words and deeds. For example when Murphy was keen to remake NJ’s election watchdog in his image, most allies fervently urged him to reconsider.

In the end, and with Fuscarino’s help, Murphy got what he wanted.

Appointing America’s first openly gay US Senator would be an added inducement for Murphy who seems to relish breaking barriers with his appointments.

Loretta Weinberg

The Godmother of New Jersey’s progressive community, Loretta Weinberg is a perfectly suitable candidate to be a substantive caretaker if this US Senate seat opens up.

Senator Weinberg might be a bit to opinionated to get the nod.

Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer

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

Matt Platkin

Matt Platkin is one of Phil Murphy most trusted advisors. Platkin also happens to be NJ’s 62nd Attorney General which means if he gets the nod to replace Menendez, Murphy get 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, who chairs New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, radiates a principled brand of politics that’s virtually extinct in the Garden State. Her incandescent intellect and especially her advocacy for underdogs has served the people of New Jersey extraordinary well.

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

Jay Lassiter is a writer based in Cherry Hill. When he’s not excoriating Trenton lawmakers for their nincompoopery, he’s probably working to get the government out of your bong. 


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One response to “Who Replaces Menendez if He’s Expelled or Resigns? Phil Murphy Decides”

  1. Why is Loretta Weinburg described as”
    a bit opnionated”? This is a sexist comment.
    I’ll take Loretta Weinburg and her opinions

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