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Murphy begins rounding out his Cabinet, filling 3 slots

Michael Catalini, Associated Press | 12/17/2017, 8:08 a.m.
New Jersey residents have a clearer picture of who will possibly take on the Trump administration in court, write the ...
Sheila Oliver and Phil Murphy.

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey residents have a clearer picture of who will possibly take on the Trump administration in court, write the state's roughly $35 billion budget and oversee the department in charge of Atlantic City.

Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy is rounding out his Cabinet nominations, naming two officials this week and bringing the total to three.

Murphy takes over from Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Jan. 16 and has indicated his administration's priorities would contrast sharply with Christie's.

Who Murphy has named:

'STEEL BACKBONE' AGAINST TRUMP

Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has never before held elected office, selected Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal to be New Jersey's next attorney general.

Grewal would be the first Sikh attorney general in the country.

Murphy is expecting Grewal to push back against President Donald Trump in a number of areas, including health care, immigration and taxes.

The change from a Republican to Democratic administration means New Jersey is poised to join other states' attorneys general suing the Trump administration.

"New Jersey needs an attorney general with a steel backbone, one that will stand up for New Jersey against everything coming our way from Washington," Murphy said.

Grewal was tapped for his current post by Christie in 2016 in Bergen, New Jersey's most populous county. He is a former assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division in the New Jersey district and also served as a prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.

Grewal, a Democrat, said he's "honored" to be nominated.

"I chose to pursue this opportunity ... to make sure we have a just and fair society for all New Jerseyans, all 9 million of them," Grewal said.

If confirmed, he would succeed Attorney General Christopher Porrino, who called Grewal's nomination a great choice on Twitter.

'FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE'

Murphy picked Democratic Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio for the state's top fiscal job.

The 15th District representative will be the first woman in three decades to hold the post if she's confirmed.

Murphy implied criticism toward Christie in his remarks, echoing his political campaign against his GOP rival, current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

"We must return to being the state we once were not so many years ago: fiscally responsible, honest and respected, while standing for all the right things," Murphy said.

The treasurer is responsible for helping the governor craft New Jersey's budget and also oversees the state's benefits programs, investments, lottery and pensions.

Murphy has promised to fully fund the pension and a school aid formula, but has not specified how he'd pay for them. Neither he nor Muoio laid out specifics on the budget.

A Democrat from Pennington, Muoio serves as the director of economic development for Mercer County. She's a former county freeholder and Pennington Borough Council member.

She holds a law degree from Georgetown and was elected to the Assembly in 2015.

LG TO AC

New Jersey's Lt. Gov.-elect Sheila Oliver will take the helm of the Department of Community Affairs, which was charged with managing Atlantic City when the seaside gambling resort went under state control in 2016.

Murphy promised during the campaign to end the state's takeover of the city. The city's financial strife stems from the decline of gambling, with five of its 12 casinos closing since 2014.

Christie seized power under legislation in 2016 after determining the city was unable to make difficult choices to stabilize finances.

The department also coordinates state aid to towns and cities and oversees code enforcement.

Oliver is the state's second lieutenant governor, succeeding Republican Kim Guadagno, whom Murphy defeated in Tuesday's election.

The constitution allows the governor to appoint his top deputy to lead a Cabinet post without the advice and consent of the Senate, as is required for other positions. -- (AP)