M. Teresa Ruiz, State Senator, LD29
Strengths: She’s a lawmaker whose consistent efforts have enabled her to outgrow the Adabato-bot tag that dogged her when she first landed in Trenton. She’s also Hispanic – after U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) arguably the most politically muscled up Latin pol in the state.
Weaknesses: She’ll have to disentangle herself from the Christie-crat murmurs that plague inner sanctum allies of Ruiz’s mentor, powerful Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
Prognosis: On a shaking foundation that is the current Essex County Democratic Party, Ruiz, alert to stymied opportunities as senate president and congresswoman, might finally say “to hell with this,” and prevail on her allies to get behind her for one full-on statewide rodeo. She’d obviously have to avoid what happened to Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), whose rogue U.S. Senate run backfired abysmally.
Prognosis: Not happening. Also – another thing to consider – if Bergen gets iced out of leadership in favor of Essex, state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) could unfurl a gubernatorial candidacy of his own.