Gov. Chris Christie's choice to lead the Department of Education has been approved by a Democrat-led Senate panel 18 months after his nomination.
New Jersey's Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved acting state education commissioner Christopher Cerf Thursday. Cerf's nomination will now be taken up by the full Senate.
Cerf has served as the state's acting commissioner since his nomination in December 2010. He has had a hand in crafting a bill on teacher tenure reform that the Legislature recently passed and is now awaiting Gov. Chris Christie's signature.
Before coming to New Jersey, Cerf worked for private-sector companies involved in public education, and was senior campaign adviser to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
He was nominated by Christie after the governor fired then-commissioner Bret Schundler in 2010 over a botched $400 million federal grant application.
Cerf's confirmation was held up for 18 months because of a process called senatorial courtesy, which allows the senator from the nominee's home county to block a gubernatorial appointment.
Cerf, who lives in Montclair, rented an apartment in Republican-friendly Montgomery to get around the rule after Sen. Ron Rice, an Essex County Democrat, refused to sign off on his nomination.