Middlesex County Democrat Craig Coughlin elected Assembly speaker

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TRENTON -

(AP) - New Jersey's Democratic-led Assembly has a new speaker.

The Democratic majority on Monday selected Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, of Middlesex County, to succeed Vincent Prieto.

Coughlin will assume the powerful speakership on Jan. 9. He's coming into office as Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy takes the reins from Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Prieto said last week that he would not seek a third term as speaker and backed Coughlin.

Coughlin is an attorney who served in the Assembly since 2010.

He says he intends to lead by "consensus" and by "strong communication" with lawmakers.

Democrats picked up two seats in this year's election, growing the majority from 52 of 80 seats to 54.

Murphy's election as governor means the party will control the Legislature and governorship for the first time since 2009.

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