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Sheila Oliver out as Assembly speaker

Glenn Townes | 11/7/2013, 2:21 p.m.

As many expected, when new Democratic leadership takes over in Trenton in January, a familiar face won’t be there—as reigning Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is getting the boot from legislators, according to various reports and sources last week.

Oliver, who has sat at the helm of the state Assembly since 2010, is only the second African-American woman to ever hold the position. She has had a rocky and gaffe-filled tenure as speaker. According to reports, popular Democratic Assemblyman Vincent Prieto will replace Oliver as speaker and fellow politico Lou Greenwald will preside over the General Assembly in January.

For Oliver, 61, the ouster completes a disastrous year in the political spotlight—including a dead-last finish in the summer primaries for Senate; frequent and embarrassing public clashes with Gov. Chris Christie; and an increasingly acrimonious relationship with Democratic state Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Oliver has not commented publicly regarding the impending change or what’s in store for her political future. However, in previous interviews, including one immediately after her primary loss to former Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Oliver said, it was too early to say what she planned to do in the future.

At any rate, in a joint statement to the media late last month, Greenwald said 41 members of the Democratic caucus actively supported the ouster of Oliver and recognized the need for immediate change in the Assembly. Said Greenwald, “The next legislative session will bring an entirely new set of challenges and issues confronting our state. We hereby express our support for a new leadership team!”