On an Election Night when the results exactly tracked what public-opinion polls had projected, one of the few surprises was the unexpected appearance at Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s victory party of former Gov. Jon Corzine, who has kept a low profile since leaving office in 2010 – especially after the bankruptcy of his Wall Street brokerage a year later.

Then another reminder of the Corzine era surfaced Wednesday, when Murphy made his first appointment as governor-elect in naming Jose Lozano the executive director of his transition committee. He's the first Latino in New Jersey to hold that position.

Lozano, 37, will oversee the teams that will study the current state government to make recommendations to Murphy, plus help choose a Cabinet and other senior staff. He worked for Corzine as a policy advisor in the U.S. Senate in 2005 and then as director of operations in the Governor’s Office from 2006 to 2008 – and in between, on Corzine’s transition team as he prepared to become governor.

"New Jersey has spoken loud and clear: they want the next governor focused on creating a stronger, fairer economy for all families," Murphy said, in an emailed statement. "Jose Lozano has the leadership and experience to run the kind of transition we'll need to be able to hit the ground running in January."

"Gov.-elect Murphy's mandate is clear: New Jersey is ready for change," Lozano said. "I thank Gov.-elect Murphy for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with him and the Transition2018 team on a blueprint to create jobs and build a stronger, fairer economy for New Jersey."

After leaving Corzine’s front office, Lozano was director for strategic and external affairs for the state Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness for nearly two years. He then became deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under fellow Corzine alum Lisa Jackson.

Since mid-2013, Lozano has been chief of staff and vice president for corporate services and governance for Hackensack Meridian Health, which operates 13 hospitals across New Jersey, including eight in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Murphy kept a low public profile on his first day as governor-elect, his only public event being an 8 a.m. visit to the PATH station in Hoboken to thank commuters for their support in the election as they hustled for the train into Manhattan.

At that event, he told reporters to “stay tuned” because the announcement of appointments would kick off Wednesday. There are no hard and fast timelines for a gubernatorial transition, although past governors have made as many as a half-dozen first-day appointments (Jim Florio, 1989) or even named a chief of staff and chief counsel (Christie Whitman, 1993).

Murphy said he spoke about the transition Tuesday night by phone with Gov. Chris Christie and that the two were seeking to arrange to meet.

“It was a very gracious, very good conversation, focused literally 100 percent on transition. He and I will meet live in the next couple of days,” Murphy said. “I don’t think we have it scheduled yet, but he and I are trying to find some time to sit.”

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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