Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Guadagno also will serve as New Jersey's next secretary of state, Gov.-elect Christopher J. Christie said yesterday.
The job will give Guadagno - the state's first lieutenant governor - the secretary's traditional responsibilities overseeing elections and promoting historical and cultural programs and tourism. In addition, Christie has asked Guadagno to lead a "red-tape review" committee to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles to developing business in the state. She also will head a New Jersey Partnership for Action to help attract and retain businesses.
The role Guadagno carves out could determine how the position fits into state government. The only clearly defined responsibility when the lieutenant governor post was established was to be ready to serve if the governor is unavailable, a relatively common occurrence in recent New Jersey history.
Appointing Guadagno to a cabinet post will eliminate the need to add more salary and staff to the executive branch, Christie said.
"She will continue to be, as she is now, a full partner of mine in every decision of governance that we make. That will serve me well, that will serve the people of New Jersey well, and it will serve Kim well, because we want her at a moment's notice to be prepared to take over the governorship if need be," he said.
Guadagno, now the Monmouth County sheriff, noted that her office will be just down the hall from Christie's.
"I think it's a great operational opportunity, and also doesn't create a bureaucracy at a time when we're looking to streamline government," Guadagno said.
Guadagno was elected with Christie in November, the first New Jersey election to have lieutenant governor running mates. By law, the lieutenant governor does not have to be confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state, Guadagno said. Ordinarily, all cabinet nominees are subject to Senate approval.
Democratic State Chairman Joseph Cryan, a Union County assemblyman, said Guadagno was qualified for the job, but he questioned the propriety of having a political candidate oversee elections.
"To ensure the fairness and integrity of our elections, it is vital that the person in charge of our state's election process does not have a vested personal interest in the results," Cryan said in a statement.
Christie dismissed the criticism, saying, "There is no conflict."
He said the legislation creating the lieutenant governor "suggests" the person in the office could be secretary of state.