South Jersey’s 30 Most Influential Figures, Elected and Otherwise

1. George Norcross III – Norcross remains the Democrats’ lynchpin in South Jersey. From his sway within the party to his push to revitalize Camden, Norcross is still the preeminent power broker.

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2. Steve Sweeney – The strongest contender for the 2017 gubernatorial primary, the Senate President’s overwhelming support from labor has kept him in the public’s good graces despite his former ties to Governor Christie.

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3. Lou Greenwald – The Assembly Majority Leader is the only other major contender for the Democratic ticker in 2017, and a major force in the Democrats’ fundraising effort to maintain a majority in the legislature in 2016.

4. John Burzichelli – Burzichelli is almost universally liked and respected, and has a prominent place in one of the most important legislative bodies for South Jersey as chair of appropriations. 

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5. Donald Norcross – The South Jersey congressman has been instrumental in courting new business to move into the city of Camden, and is poised to win big in 2016 if Senator Bob Menedez abandons his seat.

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6. Jeff Van Drew – National Democrats have encouraged a congressional run in 2016 if LD1 Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak retains his seat and eventually takes the state senate race off Van Drew’s hands in 2017.

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7. George Gilmore – The Ocean County GOP Chairman is a long-time heavy-weight whose endorsement can make all the difference for Republican hopefuls state-wide.

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8. Jim Whelan – Whelan has been one of the few LD2 politicians to come out of Atlantic City’s financial collapse unscathed. If his proposed PILOT legislation passes and yields positive results, his legacy would continue to stay intact.

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9. Tom MacArthur – The self-funded congressional campaign that saw MacArthur outspend his rival Aimee Belgard three to one showed that MacArthur is not a man to underestimate, though his close relationship with House Republicans could pose a political problem next year.

10. Dana Redd – The mayor of Camden has one of the most difficult jobs in the state, and Redd has juggled appeals for federal revitalization funds with public-private initiatives to continue reforming the city’s youth programs and police force with aplomb.

11. Dennis Levinson – The Republican Atlantic County Executive will be one of the major players in plans to diversify Atlantic City’s economy, and has led county Republicans’ charge to oppose Whelan’s proposed bill to offer tax breaks to casinos.

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12. Diane Allen – The senator for LD7 will be nearly unbeatable if she seeks reelection in 2016, due to her outsize public popularity and bi-partisan appeal.

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13. Troy Singleton – The incumbent LD7 assemblyman will likely run for Allen’s seat. His ties to the powerful carpenters’ union and his unique ability to foster partnerships across the north-south divide  would make him a serious contender.

14. Bill Layton – The Burlington County GOP chairman weighed in during MacArthur’s successful congressional campaign in 2014, and will likely play a significant role in this year’s BurlCo freeholder race.

15. Jim Schroeder – Schroeder could be an important county-level ally for Whelan as he tries to pass his proposed PILOT bill for Atlantic City casinos in the face of staunch opposition from Republican governors.

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16. Frank LoBiondo – The question vis-a-vis long-time state US Representative for CD2 is not his sizable popularity. If LoBiondo retires, he could clear the path for a for a possible Van Drew congressional ticket’s decisive victory.

17. Bill Castner – George Norcross’s chief political advisor, and an attorney with Gibbons P.C.

18. Bill Tambussi – George Norcross’s attorney and a Sweeney ally with the powerful Brown and Connery firm.

19. Steve Ayscue – A top strategist for Norcross, Ayscue gives the marching orders for the Norcross machine’s foot soldiers.

20. Kevin Lavin – Atlantic City’s Emergency Manager has an unenviable task ahead of him as he continues to weigh the costs and benefits of Atlantic City’s various recovery plans, but his unprecedented authority in the tourism district makes him a major player.

21. Keith Davis – Chairman of the Atlantic County Republican Committee, Davis will be serving as Chief Counsel for the NJGOP this cycle.

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22. Mike Donohue – The Cape May GOP Chairman was part of the group of Republican insiders who picked Freeholder Jim Sauro to run with incumbent Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi in LD1.

23. Chris Brown – The sitting Republican assemblyman in LD2, and the most vociferous critic of the stalled referendum to expand gaming into the rest of the state.

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24. Vince Mazzeo – The sitting Democratic assemblyman in LD2, who has suffered from what Brown’s camp has portrayed as a defeatist attitude toward the referendum.

25. Carl Icahn – Buyer of the Trump Taj Mahal casino, which is still in bankruptcy court. The strife between Icahn and casino workers, who are threatening to strike unless he restores their benefits, could lead to another shuttered casino if Icahn digs in his heels.

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26. Don Guardian – Though the Atlantic City mayor has suffered along with his city, he still has the power to push back against Levinson and defend the PILOT bill against county Republican naysayers.

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27. Susan McCue – A leading strategist with the General Majority PAC, which ran ads in LD1 and 2 insinuating that assembly Republicans in the districts support the North Jersey casino referendum.

28. Chris Russell – Advisor to the Republican Assembly campaigns in LD1 and 2, Russell is the head of the Republican CR Consulting group.

29. Glenn Paulsen – The lobbyist and former Burlington County GOP chairman still has the ear of those in the NJ Republicans’ highest echelons.

30. Sam Fiocchi – The incumbent Republican assemblyman is a prominent member of the business community in LD1, and has already drawn substantial fundraising support from the private sector.