Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver of New Jersey has died after being hospitalized for an illness.
Oliver was first elected in 2018 on a joint ticket with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and had been acting as governor while Murphy was vacationing in Italy before being hospitalized. She was abruptly hospitalized on Monday due to an unspecified “long illness” and later died, according to a report by the New Jersey Globe.
“I knew then that her decades of public service made her the ideal partner for me to lead the State of New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement, adding that ”[i]t was the best decision I ever made.”
Murphy and Oliver were narrowly reelected in 2022 against the Republican nominee, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattareli, in a race that gained national attention.
Following Oliver’s hospitalization, New Jersey State Senate President Nick Scutari, a Democrat, became the acting governor and will remain so until Murphy returns to the state.
Oliver, who turned 71 in July, previously served as the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, the lower house of the state legislature. She concurrently served as the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs while lieutenant governor.
“The Governor will be returning to New Jersey soon following the Lieutenant Governor’s passing,” wrote Mahen Gunaratna, Murphy’s communications director, in response to a request for comment.
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