Fearful of Politicization by a Big Law Firm Type, Rice Wants Murphy to Pick Democratic Primary Rival Johnson for AG

By Max Pizarro | November 11, 2017

Insider NJ


Veteran state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) wants Governor-elect Phil Murphy to consider former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jim Johnson, whom Murphy defeated in the 2017 Democratic Primary for Governor, for the office of state Attorney General.

“I think it would be great if he were considered,” Rice told InsiderNJ, in reference to Jonhson, a resident of Montclair in Essex County. “If you want to talk about laying down resumes,  no one’s going to match him. His experience in the White House gave him an entrée into relationships as well as to issues. The relationships Murphy has at the White House too – between two of them, they have contacts that will be great for the state.”

Rice too mentioned the leg up he believes Johnsons would have on economics and civil rights issues.

“I do know whether the AG will be Jim Johnson or someone else, but it can’t be someone from a big flaw firm who’s locked in politically,” Rice said.  “It must be somene who’s pants can’t be pulled down by the political bosses. Those days are gone, but New Jersey is known as one of the most corrupt states in the country. Jim Johnson would probably shut that right down. I wouldn’t have a problem with Jim at all.”

InsiderNJ has heard talk of power attorney Angelo Genova as a potential AG. Genova represents a Rice rival, powerful Essex County Executive Joe DiVinceno. But Rice said he had not heard Genova’s name circulated as an option for the job.

Other names bouncing around for the top cop gig include Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez and attorney Phil Sellinger.

“The problem with a big law firm type is it will become political,” said Rice.

InsiderNJ asked Rice if part of his desire to see an empowered Johnson – who came in second in the June Democratic Primary with 100,000 votes – includes an understanding of a Team of Rivals mentality, inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s creation of his presidential cabinet out of the scraps of past political collisions.

“Murphy and Johnson get along fine,” Rice insisted. “They had issues during their campaign on policy.”

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