Why N.J. Dems want Lt. Gov candidate Sheila Oliver to also run for her Assembly seat

 Sheila Oliver was picked by gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy to be his running mate. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Sheila Oliver was picked by gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy to be his running mate. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver’s name will be on the November ballot in New Jersey as the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. In a precedent-setting move, Democrats also plan to have her run for re-election to the Assembly.

Democratic party officials say a state regulation prohibiting candidates from accepting nominations for more than one office, in the same election, does not apply because Oliver was selected by Phil Murphy as a running mate, not nominated.

Seton Hall University public affairs professor Matthew Hale said that move might be challenged.

“I haven’t heard people saying that there will be a legal challenge or a legal decision, but I would certainly expect a political challenge.”

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin does not believe Democrats want Oliver to seek both offices because they’re worried the Murphy/Oliver team will lose the governor’s race.

“Oh no. I don’t think it has anything to do with that. It has to do with the competition for a safe Democrat seat in the state Assembly, and you avoid that fight happening right now.”

Fairleigh Dickinson University political science professor Peter Woolley said If she wins both races, Oliver would give up her Assembly seat, and local Democratic party committee officials would be able to handpick her replacement.

“It’s an overwhelmingly Democratic district so there’s no doubt that she will win re-election in that district. If she were to withdraw now, they might not have complete control over who takes her place.”

In the November General Election, New Jersey will elect it’s second lieutenant governor. The post was created after senate presidents, twice, had to serve as “acting governor” for about a year.

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