New Jersey’s Irish American Leaders

In honor of St. Patrick's Day 2009, PolitickerNJ.com once again asked veteran political consultant Tom Barrett to prepare an ‘updated' list of New Jersey's Irish American Leaders.

The list, which includes both veterans and newcomers alike, was selected to honor the 74th Anniversary Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade, which is the oldest Irish parade in the state (1936-present), interrupted only by WWII (1943-46). The author admires its sense of tradition. This list is purely subjective. We hope you enjoy it.

  • Bill Baroni. Accomplished State Senator from Mercer and Middlesex counties, first elected to Assembly in 2003. Popular Seton Hall University Law Professor.
  • Joe Bradley. Long time aide to Newark City council, now retired, but active in Irish American organizations including serving as an officer for the Friends of Brian Boru.
  • Edward R. Brannigan. President of the Fraternal Order of Police/New Jersey.
  • Joseph P. Brennan, Esq. Essex County Surrogate. Twice elected West Orange Council president. Decorated Vietnam veteran and former Grand Marshal of West Orange Irish parade.
  • Laurel Brennan. Highly regarded South Jersey Labor leader and Secretary-Treasurer of the State AFL-CIO.
  • Brendan T. Byrne. Two term Democratic Governor 1974-82 and last Democrat Governor to win re-election. Considered one of the great after dinner speakers of all time and one of NJ's most revered elder statesmen.
  • Eugene J. Byrne, Esq. Trustee of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Inc. Long time Montclair GOP district leader, State Senate candidate (1991) and Grand Marshal of Newark Irish Parade in 1991. He has marched in the NYC Irish parade every year for more than 50 years.
  • Dennis F. Carey, III. Essex County Superior Court Judge and grandson of the legendary Dennis " I run Essex" Carey who as Essex Democratic Chairman from 1953 to 1969 helped elect two governors, a U.S. Senator and engineered a 50,000 vote plurality for JFK in 1960 when Kennedy's state margin was 22,000 votes.
  • Michael Patrick Carroll. GOP member of the State Assembly from the 25th legislative district, a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the son of Maurice (Mickey) Carroll, former NY Herald Tribune reporter who is presently director of the Quinnipiac poll.
  • Robert "Bobby" Carroll. Son of famed labor leader ‘Big' Jim Carroll of Laborer's Local 472 in Newark, Bob is currently a successful attorney in private practice in New Jersey.
  • Dennis M. Cavanaugh. U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey whose mother was born in County Clare, Ireland and who is related to the late Frank McGovern, the famous proprietor of McGovern's Tavern in Newark.
  • James A. Cavanaugh. Former Essex County Freeholder, popular Morristown restaurateur and president of Phoenix Contractors of Fairfield.
  • Richard J. Codey. Served with distinction and bi-partisan praise as New Jersey's Governor. Currently President of the NJ Senate. Former Essex County Assemblyman (1974-82), and one of the most influential legislative leaders in New Jersey history.
  • Jere Cole. Essex County Sheriff's officer and currently President of the state- wide Ancient Order of Hibernians.
  • Dennis Collins. Former long time Mayor of Bayonne whose advice is still sought after, state-wide.
  • Jack Collins. Former Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly. College Professor. Basketball Coach. Lawyer. Farmer.
  • Ted Connolly. First Ward Council member for the City of Bayonne.
  • Joseph Cryan. Son of the late John F. Cryan. Currently serving as State Assemblyman and Union County Undersheriff. Currently Chairman of the NJ Democratic State Committee and is considered a powerful figure in the state legislature.
  • Michael Critchley. Well known Defense Attorney whose family is involved with numerous Irish American organizations. Known for his brilliance in court and for his discretion.
  • Ellen Davenport. Former Mayor of Maplewood and former Essex County Freeholder who now serves as Secretary of the NJ State Senate.
  • John Degnan. Former Attorney General under Governor Brendan Byrne.
  • Frank ‘Pat' Dodd. Elected to the Assembly (1964-70). Served in State Senate State from 1972-1982 and served as Senate President in 1976-77. Candidate for Governor in the 1981 Democratic primary.
  • Michael J. Doherty. GOP Member of General Assembly from Warren County. Graduate of West Point and Seton Hall Law School. Captain in the Army Reserves from 1985-93.
  • Reverend Patrick W. Donohue. Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Vailsburg, Newark and long time Chaplain of the Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee.
  • Kathe Donovan. Bergen County Clerk and former Chairlady of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. Kathe was Republican Chair of the New Jersey Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Currently on GOP short list for Lt. Governor.
  • Margaret O'Boyle Dunigan. Former two term councilwoman from Township of Bloomfield and active in numerous Irish American organizations. Former Deputy Grand Marshal of the Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Raymond M. Durkin. Former Essex County and State Democratic Chairman who led the Essex County Democratic organization to prominence in the embattled 1980's.
  • Christopher Durkin. Former Essex County Sheriff's Detective and Director of Personnel for the County of Essex whose skills as a political leader were evident in his topping the ticket on the county ballot in 2005 as elected Essex County Clerk.
  • Tim Dougherty. Chairman of the Morristown Planning Board, former councilman and current candidate for Mayor in 2009 . Serves as an engineer at the Prudential Center in Newark.
  • Carol Jean Doyle. Kearny Councilwoman and a long time Irish leader in Hudson County.
  • John Farmer Jr. Son of Star-Ledger Editorial Page editor John Farmer, former NJ Attorney General, columnist and member of the New Jersey State Ethics Board.
  • Adrian Foley. Former Essex County Surrogate. Elected in 1954. He was president of the Constitutional Convention in 1966 and a confidant of the late Richard J. Hughes. Heads up the powerful law firm Connell Foley in Roseland, NJ.
  • Jamie Fox. Former Chief of Staff to Governor James E. McGreevey and U.S. States Senator Robert Torricelli. Had a stellar career in both state and national government. Former Deputy Director of the Port Authority of NY/NJ. Now a successful lobbyist.
  • Kevin Frey. Chairman of the Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee.
  • Cornelius (Neil) Gallagher. Congressman from Hudson County (1959-73). Potential Vice-Presidential nominee in 1964. Actively retired and still spotted in Bayonne.
  • Susan H. Gartland. Caldwell Councilwoman and former Deputy Grand Marshal of the Newark Irish Parare.
  • Frank Gately, 2009 Grand Marshal of the West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Noreen Giblin. Daughter of Assemblyman Tom Giblin. Graduate of Seton Hall University Law School. Served in the McGreevey administration. Former State Director for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. 2006 Essex County Irishwoman Of The Year. Now with the Gibbons law firm in Newark.
  • Thomas P. Giblin. Like his father before him, a former Essex County Freeholder and Board president as well as a former Essex County Surrogate. Served as both Essex County and New Jersey State Democratic Chairman. He and his dad are the only father and son to serve as both chairman and grand marshal of the Newark Irish parade. Grand marshal in 1975, he served as general chairman for more than a decade. Currently serves in State Assembly.
  • Monsignor John J. Gilchrist. 52-year parish priest and Spiritual Director to Essex-West Hudson Labor Council and State AFL-CIO. Columnist for the Catholic Advocate. This year's honoree of the Giblin Association.
  • William L. Gormley. Notre Dame graduate, former Marine Corp captain, freeholder, Assemblyman (1977-1982), and State Senator who went on to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bill's father was a former Atlantic County Sheriff.
  • John F. X. Graham. Fairview Insurance. Prolific Democratic fundraiser and successful insurance executive who infamously heads up "The Group, the much sought after national fund raising organization. Friend of U. S. Presidents and those who want to be.
  • Jerramiah Healy. Currently Mayor of Jersey City. First elected in November 2004 and whose first official act was to enclose his porch after he was photographed on it. Currently serves as Chairman of the Hudson County Democratic organization.
  • Pat Hobbs. Well respected and popular Dean of Seton Hall.Law School since 1999, a current member of the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) and a member of the Newark Alliance.
  • Matthew Holleran. Young Irish American leader, related to the Durkin's of Essex County by marriage and an executive with a Middlesex County security firm.
  • Brian Hughes. Son of the late Governor Richard Hughes. Currently serving his second term as Mercer County Executive. Considered a rising star in the state Democratic ranks.
  • John Hughes. Also, son of the late Governor Richard Hughes. Recently retired from the Federal bench and is currently engaged in mediation work.
  • William F. Hyland. Served as a member of the General Assembly from Camden County from 1954 to 1961 and as Speaker in 1958. Resigned to become President of the Public Utility Commission in 1961. Served as state Attorney General under Governor Brendan Byrne. Plays a mean clarinet.
  • John V. Kelly. Former president of Nutley Savings & Loan, John served as Township Commissioner, Mayor and nine-term member of the General Assembly. He was the long time General Chairman of the annual Nutley St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Rev. Mike Kelly. Spiritual advisor to numerous Irish-American organizations and popular Headmaster of Seton Hall Prep.
  • Robert Lynch. Well-known proprietor of the Kilkenny Ale House on Central Avenue in Newark.
  • Tom Lynch. Long time aide to Assemblyman Joe Cryan and popular young leader with Union County Irish organizations. Now with the Board of Public Utilities.
  • Colleen M. Mahr, Mayor of Fanwood Boro and President of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors.
  • Raymond McCarthy. Popular mayor of the Township of Bloomfield where he formerly served as Chairman of the Bloomfield Business Advisory Board and as a Trustee of the Township's Board of Education.
  • John E. McCormac. Elected mayor of Woodbridge, the oldest original township in the state of New Jersey in November 2006. Former New Jersey State Treasurer.
  • Paul ‘PJ' McDonald. Belleville Councilman. Long time civic leader and supporter of the Nutley St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Frank McEnerney. Well respected Accountant and member of numerous Irish American organization. This year's Irishman of the Year for the Cryan Association.
  • Sean McGovern. Roseland Councilman and well known proprietor of Scully's restaurant and McGovern's Tavern in Newark.
  • James E. McGreevey. Former State Assemblyman (1990-92) and State Senator from 1994-98. Elected Governor in 2001. Resigned from office in 2004.
  • Patti McGuire. Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Jon Corzine, former aide to now U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and is well respected as a campaign operative with unrivaled expertise in election get-out-the-vote operations. Now a lobbyist.
  • John McKeon. Mayor of West Orange, attorney and member of the State Assembly where he chairs the Environment Committee and a long time organizer of the West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Dennis McNerney, Former Freeholder and currently serving his second term as Bergen County Executive, the first Democrat to do so. On the Democrats short list for Lt. Governor.
  • Jim McQueeney. Former Star-Ledger reporter and former state director for U. S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. With roots in County Leitrim, he is now a political analyst and the co-host of Power & Politics, a weekly cable television show on News 12NJ.
  • Maggee Miggins. Successful Short Hills real-estate broker whose family hails from Vailsburg, Newark. Served as Deputy Grand Marshal of this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Newark.
  • Maggie Moran. Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Jon Corzine. Young, intelligent leader in state politics whose wisdom and advice is constantly sought in high circles. Experienced with the NJ State Committee, Maggie is a former State Director for both NJ Senators Corzine and Lautenberg.
  • William ‘Bill' Mullen. President of the powerful and 100 year old New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO whose advice is sought by most legislative leaders in Trenton.
  • John Murphy. Morris County Freeholder leader and GOP candidate for Governor in 2005. Considered rising star in Republican circles.
  • Michael Murphy. Former Morris County prosecutor and gubernatorial candidate in the 1997 Democratic primary where he finished a strong third behind Jim McGreevey and Congressman Rob Andrews. Had the most entertaining TV commercials in the race. Now a successful lobbyist.
  • Jeremiah O'Connor. Former Bergen County State Senator (1966-68) and county Freeholder and Mayor.
  • Daniel O'Hern, former justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court and former member of the New Jersey State Ethics Board.
  • Kevin P. O'Sullivan. Former Legislative Representative & Executive Director of the New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council.
  • Kevin O'Toole. Currently NJ State Senator. Essex County Republican Chairman. Former member of the Cedar Grove Township Council and 3 term Township Mayor.
  • Mark Quirk, President of the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh of the Jersey Shore.
  • Paul Reilly. Former Newark Deputy Mayor and long time President of the Essex- based Friends of Brian Boru.
  • Mary Reilly. Famous owner and proprietor of the Irish Shoppe in Spring Lake and this year's Woman of the Year for the Friends of Brian Boru.
  • Joseph "Joe" Roberts, Jr. Former Camden County Freeholder Director who went on to serve with distinction as a State Assemblyman, Majority Leader and current Speaker of the General Assembly. Considered one of the most popular leaders in the state legislature.
  • Tom Roughneen. North Jersey attorney and Iraqi war veteran who ran highly visible campaign for Congress. Well regarded and upcoming star in GOP ranks.
  • Robert ‘Bob' Ruane. Former member of the NJ State Assembly and currently serving as Bloomfield Township Councilman.
  • William "Bill" Scully. Legend in Irish circles for his quick wit, fine voice, his classic moustache, his short game in golf which includes putting from sand traps and as the long time proprietor and host of McGovern's Tavern in Newark.
  • Tom Shea. Former Chief of Staff to Governor Jon Corzine, Communications expert whose career has taken him from an aide in the NJ State Senate to Washington, D.C. to Paris, France (served with the State Dep't) and back to Trenton.
  • Stephen Sweeney. Labor leader and State Senator representing 3rd Legislative District since 2002. Gloucester County Freeholder since 1997. Business Agent for Ironworkers Local 399. Now Majority Leader in NJ State Senate.
  • Virginia Treacey, long time leader of Jersey Nurses Economic Security Organization (JNESO) and 2008 Deputy Grand Marshal of the Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Ann Twomey. Distinguished career as head of a state nurse's union group, the Hospitable and Professional and Allied Employees (HPAE). Elected delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
  • John P. Walsh. Morris County civic leader. Retired Director of the Irish American Cultural Institute and The Irish Way Program. Former Grand Marshal of the Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • Daniel J. Zeisner. Grand Marshal of the 2009 Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Tom Barrett is a partner in Barrett & Mottola, a Nutley-based public relations firm. He is a longtime Democratic political consultant who has been involved in Democratic campaigns for more than 25 years. New Jersey’s Irish American Leaders