New Jersey Gets a New Lieutenant Governor One Month After the Sudden Death of Sheila Oliver

Gov. Phil Murphy announced New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way as Oliver's successor on Friday

<p>Kevin R. Wexler/ / USA TODAY NETWORK</p> Tahesha Way

Kevin R. Wexler/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tahesha Way

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy named a new lieutenant governor on Friday, roughly one month after former Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver died in the hospital from an undisclosed medical issue.

"With Sheila gone, it is now our turn to keep her legacy alive," Murphy said in a statement announcing his pick to fill the role: New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way.

"As New Jersey’s Secretary of State, Tahesha has been a vital member of my administration since day one," Murphy continued in the announcement. "But long before she joined our team, Tahesha had already dedicated every ounce of herself to serving our state’s families."

Murphy added that Way "can handle the single most important responsibility of any Lieutenant Governor. And that is being ready to step in, and serve as Governor, if needed."

"She is brilliant. She is battle-tested. And she represents the best of New Jersey," Murphy added.

Related: New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver Dead at 71 After Brief Hospitalization While Serving as Acting Governor

<p>AP Photo/Noah K. Murray</p> New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy celebrate their reelection on Nov. 3, 2021

AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy celebrate their reelection on Nov. 3, 2021

Former Lt. Gov. Oliver's death was announced via a statement released by her family in early August.

"It is with incredible sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of the Honorable Sheila Y. Oliver, Lieutenant Governor of the State of New Jersey," the statement reads. "She was not only a distinguished public servant but also our cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero."

Oliver, a Democrat, had served as the state’s second-ever lieutenant governor since 2018. At the time of her abrupt hospitalization, she was acting as governor while Murphy was vacationing out of the country. She was 71.

<p>AP Photo/Matt Rourke</p> Former New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who died in office on Aug. 1, 2023

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Former New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who died in office on Aug. 1, 2023

Oliver made history when she became the first African American woman to serve as speaker of the New Jersey Assembly in 2010.

In addition to serving as lieutenant governor, she also served as the head of the Department of Community Affairs, which oversees code enforcement in the state.

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In a statement posted to X following her death, Murphy said that he and his family were "incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and partner in government."

"When I selected her to be my running mate in 2017, Lieutenant Governor Oliver was already a trailblazer in every sense of the word," Murphy continued. "She had already made history as the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the General Assembly, and just the second Black woman in the nation’s history to lead a house of a state legislature. I knew then that her decades of public service made her the ideal partner for me to lead the State of New Jersey. It was the best decision I ever made."

Beyond her professional capabilities, Murphy touted Oliver as "an incredibly genuine and kind person whose friendship and partnership will be irreplaceable."

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