The New Jersey Senate is the upper house of the New Jersey Legislature by the Constitution of 1844, replacing the Legislative Council. There are 40 legislative districts, representing districts with an average population of 232,225 (2020 figure). Each district has one senator and two members of the New Jersey General Assembly, the lower house of the legislature. Prior to the election in which they are chosen, senators must be a minimum of 30 years old and a resident of the state for four years to be eligible to serve in office.[1]

New Jersey Senate
New Jersey Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 9, 2024
Nicholas Scutari (D)
since January 11, 2022
President pro tempore
Shirley Turner (D)
since January 9, 2024
Majority Leader
Teresa Ruiz (D)
since January 11, 2022
Deputy Majority Leader
Paul Sarlo (D)
since October 29, 2008
Minority Leader
Anthony M. Bucco (R)
since July 1, 2023
Political groups
  •   Democratic (25)


Length of term
4 years (with one two-year term each decade)
AuthorityArticle IV, New Jersey Constitution
Last election
November 7, 2023
Next election
November 2, 2027
RedistrictingNew Jersey Apportionment Commission
Meeting place
State Senate Chamber
New Jersey State House
Trenton, New Jersey
New Jersey State Legislature

From 1844 until 1965 (when the Reynolds v. Sims US Supreme Court decision mandated all state legislators be elected from districts of roughly equal population), each county was an electoral district electing one senator. Under the 1844 Constitution, the term of office was three years, which was changed to four years with the 1947 Constitution. Since 1968 the Senate has consisted of 40 senators, who are elected in a "2-4-4" cycle. Senators serve a two-year term at the beginning of each decade, with the rest of the decade divided into two four-year terms. The "2-4-4" cycle was put into place so that Senate elections can reflect the changes made to the district boundaries on the basis of the decennial United States Census.[1] If the cycle were not put into place, then the boundaries would sometimes be four years out of date before being used for Senate elections. Rather, with the varied term, the boundaries are only two years out of date. Thus elections for Senate seats take place in years ending with a "1", "3", or "7" (i.e. next elections in 2027, 2031, and 2033).

Interim appointments are made to fill vacant legislative seats by the county committee or committees of the party of the vacating person (since a constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 1988). The office is on the ballot for the next general election, even if the other Senate seats are not up for election in that year (such as in years ending with a "5" or "9", such as 2009 or 2015). The sole exception to this is if the vacancy occurred within 51 days of the election, in which case the appointment stands until the following general election.[2]

Composition edit

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
Begin 2018-2020 legislature 25 15 40 0
End 2018-2020 legislature 26 13 39 1
2020-2022 legislature 25 15 40 0
2022-2024 legislature 24 16 40 0
2024-2026 legislature 25 15 40 0
Latest voting share 62.5% 37.5%

List of state senators edit

District Senator Party Assumed office Counties represented Residence
District 1 Mike Testa Republican December 5, 2019 Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland Vineland
District 2 Vincent J. Polistina Republican November 8, 2021 Atlantic Egg Harbor Township
District 3 John Burzichelli Democratic January 9, 2024 Cumberland, Gloucester Salem Paulsboro
District 4 Paul D. Moriarty Democratic January 9, 2024 Atlantic, Camden, Gloucester Washington Township
District 5 Nilsa Cruz-Perez Democratic December 15, 2014 Camden, Gloucester Barrington
District 6 James Beach Democratic January 3, 2009 Burlington, Camden Voorhees Township
District 7 Troy Singleton Democratic January 9, 2018 Burlington Palmyra
District 8 Latham Tiver Republican January 9, 2024 Atlantic, Burlington Southampton
District 9 Carmen Amato Republican January 9, 2024 Ocean Lacey
District 10 James W. Holzapfel Republican January 10, 2012 Ocean, Monmouth Toms River
District 11 Vin Gopal Democratic January 9, 2018 Monmouth Long Branch
District 12 Owen Henry Republican January 9, 2024 Burlington, Middlesex, Ocean Old Bridge Township
District 13 Declan O'Scanlon Republican January 9, 2018 Monmouth Little Silver
District 14 Linda R. Greenstein Democratic December 6, 2010 Mercer, Middlesex Plainsboro Township
District 15 Shirley Turner Democratic January 13, 1998 Hunterdon, Mercer Lawrence Township
District 16 Andrew Zwicker Democratic January 11, 2022 Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset South Brunswick
District 17 Bob Smith Democratic January 8, 2002 Middlesex, Somerset Piscataway
District 18 Patrick J. Diegnan Democratic May 9, 2016 Middlesex South Plainfield
District 19 Joe F. Vitale Democratic January 13, 1998 Middlesex Woodbridge
District 20 Joseph Cryan Democratic January 9, 2018 Union Union Township
District 21 Jon Bramnick Republican January 11, 2022 Middlesex, Morris, Somerset, Union Westfield
District 22 Nicholas Scutari Democratic January 13, 2004 Somerset, Union Linden
District 23 Doug Steinhardt Republican December 19, 2022 Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren Lopatcong
District 24 Parker Space Republican January 9, 2024 Morris, Sussex, Warren Wantage
District 25 Anthony M. Bucco Republican October 24, 2019 Morris, Passaic Boonton Township
District 26 Joseph Pennacchio Republican January 8, 2008 Morris, Passaic Rockaway Township
District 27 John F. McKeon Democratic January 9, 2024 Essex, Passaic West Orange
District 28 Renee Burgess Democratic September 29, 2022 Essex, Union Irvington
District 29 Teresa Ruiz Democratic January 8, 2008 Essex, Hudson Newark
District 30 Robert W. Singer Republican October 14, 1993 Monmouth, Ocean Lakewood Township
District 31 Angela V. McKnight Democratic January 9, 2024 Hudson Jersey City
District 32 Raj Mukherji Democratic January 9, 2024 Hudson Jersey City
District 33 Brian P. Stack Democratic January 8, 2008 Hudson Union City
District 34 Britnee Timberlake Democratic January 9, 2024 Essex East Orange
District 35 Nellie Pou Democratic January 10, 2012 Bergen, Passaic North Haledon
District 36 Paul Sarlo Democratic May 19, 2003 Bergen, Passaic Wood-Ridge
District 37 Gordon M. Johnson Democratic January 11, 2022 Bergen Englewood
District 38 Joseph Lagana Democratic April 12, 2018 Bergen Paramus
District 39 Holly Schepisi Republican March 25, 2021 Bergen River Vale
District 40 Kristin Corrado Republican October 5, 2017 Bergen, Passaic Totowa

Committees and committee chairs edit

Committee chairs for the 2024-2026 Legislative Session are:[3]

List of Senate presidents edit

The following is a list of presidents of the New Jersey Senate since the adoption of the 1844 State Constitution:[4]

Double dipping edit

Under a state law that remained in effect until 2008, members of the New Jersey Assembly and Senate were allowed to serve in either chamber, as well as any other government positions they might have held at the time, although those who were still doing so as of 2008 ended up getting "grandfathered":

Name, Party-County – Second Public Office (names in bold represent state Senators still in both local and state offices as of 2023):


Special powers edit

Senatorial courtesy edit

The New Jersey Senate in session in 2013

Senatorial courtesy is a senate tradition that allows home county legislators to intercede to prevent consideration of a local resident nominated by the governor for a position that requires Senate confirmation.[11] Any of the senators from the nominee's home county can invoke senatorial courtesy to block a nomination, temporarily or permanently, without any obligation to justify the basis of their actions.[12]

Governor Corzine nominated Stuart Rabner on June 4, 2007, to be the next Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, replacing James R. Zazzali, who was nearing mandatory retirement age.[13] Shortly after the nomination, two members of the Senate from Essex County, where Rabner resides, blocked consideration of his confirmation by invoking senatorial courtesy. State Senator Ronald Rice had initially blocked the nomination, but relented on June 15, 2007, after a meeting with the governor.[14] Nia Gill dropped her block on June 19, 2007, but did not explain the nature of her concerns, though anonymous lawmakers cited in The New York Times indicated that the objection was due to Rabner's race and Governor Corzine's failure to consider a minority candidate for the post.[11] Also in June 2007, Loretta Weinberg used senatorial courtesy privileges to hold up consideration of a new term in office for Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.[12]

Acting governor edit

Until 2010, in the event of a gubernatorial vacancy, the New Jersey Constitution had specified that the President of the Senate (followed by the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly) would assume the role of Acting Governor and retain their role in the Senate (or Assembly). An Acting Governor would then assume the governorship while retaining their role in their house of the legislature.[15]

The lieutenant governor of New Jersey took office for the first time on January 19, 2010, following an election with the governor of New Jersey. The position was created as the result of a constitutional amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution passed on November 8, 2005. While the amendment itself took effect as of January 17, 2006, and made some interim changes to the succession to the governorship, the first lieutenant governor was not elected until November 3, 2009. The President of the Senate would serve as acting governor in the absence of both the governor and lieutenant governor. For example, Nicholas Scutari became acting governor of New Jersey on June 4, 2022, as both Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver were out of state on personal trips[16] and he again became acting governor for 15 days on July 31, 2023, when Murphy was out of state and Oliver was in the hospital due to an illness, from which she died the following day.[17]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Our Legislature, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed January 10, 2018. "Legislative elections are held in November of each odd-numbered year. Members of the Assembly serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms, except for the first term of a new decade, which is only two years. This '2-4-4' cycle allows for elections from new districts as soon as possible after each reapportionment."
  2. ^ New Jersey Constitution Archived June 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed January 10, 2018. "Any vacancy in the Legislature occasioned otherwise than by expiration of term shall be filled by election for the unexpired term only at the next general election occurring not less than 51 days after the occurrence of the vacancy, except that no vacancy shall be filled at the general election which immediately precedes the expiration of the term in which the vacancy occurs. For the interim period pending the election and qualification of a successor to fill the vacancy, or for the remainder of the term in the case of a vacancy occurring that cannot be filled pursuant to the terms of this paragraph at a general election, the vacancy shall be filled within 35 days by the members of the county committee of the political party of which the incumbent was the nominee from the municipalities or districts or units thereof which comprise the legislative district. Article IV, Section IV, paragraph 1 amended effective December 8, 1988."
  3. ^ "Senate Committees". New Jersey Legislature. New Jersey Office of Legislative Services. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  4. ^ Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey. J.A. Fitzgerald. 1977.
  5. ^ Johnson, Brent. "Top Dem could soon become longest-serving N.J. Senate president", NJ Advance Media for, September 18, 2019, updated January 14, 2020. Accessed January 16, 2022. "In January, he will tie Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican who held the position from 1992 to 2002, for the longest tenure in the job."
  6. ^ Kocieniewski, David. "Co-Presidents Of State Senate Devise Plan To Share Power", The New York Times, February 15, 2002. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Appearing at a jovial press conference that followed weeks of negotiations, Republican John O. Bennett and Democrat Richard Codey said that they would each serve six months a year as Senate president and that all of the 12 committees will have a co-chairman from each party. They also reached a compromise on the procedural dispute that had left the Senate, split 20-20 between the parties, deadlocked since the Legislature was sworn in Jan. 8."
  7. ^ a b Heininger, Claire. "Richard Codey ends run as N.J. Senate president", The Star-Ledger, January 12, 2010, updated April 1, 2019. Accessed January 16, 2022. "So it went Monday, Codey's last at the center of New Jersey politics. Starting today, the Essex County Democrat and former governor will become just another face in the crowd when South Jersey Sen. Stephen Sweeney succeeds him as Senate President following a nasty internal fight.... He led the Democrats' Senate caucus for 12 years and became Senate president in 2004."
  8. ^ Reilly, Matthew. "Bernard Kenny honored as Senate president on last day in office", The Star-Ledger, January 7, 2008, updated April 2, 2019. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Retiring after a 21-year career in the New Jersey Legislature, Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny (D-Hudson) today took the gavel as Senate president for day. Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) relinquished his office for a day as a gesture to Kenny, who decided not to run for re-election to the Senate last November."
  9. ^ Arco, Matt; and Sherman, Ted. "Scutari appears likely as next Senate president, sources say, with Sweeney's Election Day loss", NJ Advance Media for, November 5, 2021. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Sweeney is the longest-serving Senate president in state history, having held the post since 2010, but he lost his re-election campaign in a surprise upset to a little-known Republican, Edward Durr, the Associated Press projected Thursday."
  10. ^ Racioppi, Dustin. "Nick Scutari, a 'poor kid from Linden,' selected to become NJ's next Senate president", The Record, November 12, 2021. Accessed January 16, 2022. "Fellow Democrats on Friday chose Nicholas Scutari to succeed Stephen Sweeney as New Jersey's next Senate president, the second-most powerful position in state government."
  11. ^ a b Jones, Richard G. "Senator Drops Objections to Corzine Court Nominee", The New York Times, June 20, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Senator Gill had delayed Mr. Rabner's confirmation hearing by using "senatorial courtesy" — an obscure practice through which senators who represent the home county of nominees may block consideration of their confirmations."
  12. ^ a b Carmiel, Oshrat. "Deadline looms for Molinelli's job", The Record (Bergen County), June 20, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, whose term expired last month, may have to wait until the fall to be considered again for a second term if state Sen. Loretta Weinberg doesn't sign off on his nomination today.... Weinberg is invoking an unwritten practice called senatorial courtesy, which allows state senators to block consideration of gubernatorial nominees from their home counties without explanation. The courtesy tradition, as applied to Molinelli, requires each senator from Bergen County to sign off on his nomination before the Judiciary Committee can consider the nomination."
  13. ^ "Source: Corzine picks Rabner as chief justice, Milgram as AG"[permanent dead link], Courier News, May 31, 2007. Accessed May 31, 2007.
  14. ^ Associated Press. "Opposition Ebbs on Corzine Judge", The New York Times, June 15, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Ronald L. Rice, an Essex County Democrat and state senator, said yesterday that he would no longer block Gov. Jon S. Corzine's nomination for chief justice of the State Supreme Court."
  15. ^ Byrne, Brendan T. "Lt. Governor Is Not A Solution" (opinion commentary), The New York Times, August 29, 2004. Byrne, a former New Jersey governor, who opposed the creation of the lieutenant governor post, stated: "But what really troubles people in New Jersey is the fact that the senate president becomes acting governor while retaining his senate presidency." Retrieved August 30, 2004.
  16. ^ Johnson, Brent. "N.J. Senate President Scutari gets first crack at taking over for Murphy as acting gov Saturday", NJ Advance Media for, June 3, 2022. Accessed March 12, 2024. "It was only six months ago that Nicholas Scutari was suddenly elevated to state Senate president, one of the most powerful positions in New Jersey government.... In a rare situation, Scutari will serve as acting governor of the Garden State on Saturday for the first time as both Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, both fellow Democrats, will be out of state on personal trips."
  17. ^ Pizarro, Max. "Oliver ill, Scutari Serving as Acting Governor", Insider NJ, July 31, 2023. Accessed March 12, 2024.

External links edit

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