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July 31, 2023

N.J. Senate president is now acting governor of the state

Nick Scutari assumed duties after Gov. Murphy left the country for a two-week vacation and Lt. Gov. Oliver was hospitalized

A European vacation and a medical emergency have made the N.J. Senate president the governor of the state, possibly for the next two weeks.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver had assumed the role of acting governor Friday after Gov. Phil Murphy left the country for a family vacation in Italy. But on Monday, Oliver began receiving medical care at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and was "unable to discharge the duties of Acting Governor at this time," government officials announced. Responsibility subsequently fell to the third person in the chain of command, state Senate Pres. Nick Scutari. 

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"Pursuant to Constitutional mandates, I have again assumed the responsibilities of Acting Governor with a commitment to faithfully discharge the duties of the Office," Scutari said in a statement. "I want to extend my best wishes to Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver for a rapid and healthy recovery. We look forward to her return."

The reason for Oliver's hospitalization remains unclear. The governor's office did not release further details on her condition.

Scutari, a Democrat, also served as acting governor last summer when both Murphy and Oliver left the state for personal travel. That time, however, Scutari's tenure lasted for just one day.

Murphy is expected to return Sunday, Aug. 13 from his Italian vacation. He owns a villa in the small town of Parrano, where his family has vacationed before. He wished Oliver a "speedy recovery" in a tweet Monday.

Under Article V of the New Jersey constitution, the governorship passes to the Senate president if the governor and lieutenant governor are both unable to assume office. The succession would continue on to the speaker of the General Assembly if Scutari were to decline or become incapacitated.

The New Jersey Senate is currently on its summer break, which began after a marathon legislative session on June 30.

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