Several sources are saying Assemblywoman Linda Stender will not be a candidate for re-election to the Assembly in the 22nd Legislative District, a move that has riled the two Republican candidates, former Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks and William ‘Bo’ Vastine.
Sources in Trenton confirmed that the state is in the midst of conducting background checks on Stender in expectation that Gov. Jon Corzine will nominate her to serve on the Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
Stender, 58, is a graduate of American University who served as Fanwood Mayor and Union County Freeholder before winning a General Assembly seat in 2001. Stender came within one percent of unseating GOP Congressman Mike Ferguson in 2006, but lost a second bid for Congress in 2008 by nine percentage points.
Stender’s interest in a pension boosting job has been a topic of speculation since she lost her second congressional campaign last year.
The promise of a lucrative state job for Stender would further inflate the $60 billion unfunded liability owed by citizens for New Jersey’s public employee pension funds.
“By being complicit in this quid pro quo to get a politician in danger of being voted out of office a cushy state job, you would directly contradict the two priorities you set for yourself upon becoming governor,” Marks wrote in a letter to the Governor.
Stender is expected to replace Frederick Butler, a BPU Commissioner since 1999 who Gov. Jon Corzine plans to dump.
Stender has been largely absent from the campaign trail, although Assemblyman Jerry Green and New Democrat Rick Smiley have been campaigning for the two seats at stake Tuesday.
Green recently crashed a Plainfield mayoral forum that was sponsored by Women for Progress in the basement of the city’s library and was joined soon after by Smiley, alerted by a supporter via cell phone.
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