How does one turn the page after eight years riding the roller coaster of Chris Christie’s governorship? Easy. Start with this list. The definitive ranking of the top 100 party bosses and operatives, lobbyists and activists, lawyers and media figures, is back and better than ever.
With Governor-elect Phil Murphy on the way to the state house, a new Assembly speaker waiting in the wings, a fresh cast of characters in the Legislature, and a tidal wave of Democratic policies on the horizon, we wanted to make this year’s PolitickerNJ Power List the authoritative guide to the next big chapter in New Jersey politics. (See the full list here.)
Accordingly, this year’s list includes dozens of new faces. Some returning figures made big leaps in the rankings. Others tumbled, for the simple reason that Christie was the orange from which they got their juice and he’s leaving. Some no longer appear.
Longtime readers know that this list’s integrity rests on one big limitation: No elected officials, judges or former governors. One unfortunate casualty of our rule this year was Brendan Gill, who gave a master class in how to win the governorship as Murphy’s campaign manager. But he’s also an Essex County freeholder! No exceptions.
This year, we’re proud to show a more accurate and inclusive mosaic of New Jersey. We wanted to bring more diversity into the mix, more expert voices, more balance between Democrats and Republicans, more of the younger crowd of talented operatives rising through the ranks, and more people wielding power in unlikely places or in newly bustling corners of the Garden State’s political map.
But the list will still feel very familiar to returning readers. Governors come and go, yet the fundamentals are mostly intact. Democrats pretty much run the table, and regional factions within the party jockey for the prizes — from the Assembly, the state Senate and the governorship to public contracts and plum appointments for their allies.
Perhaps the biggest lesson this year, once again, is that one man plays the game like a supercomputer from another dimension. When he sets his sights on something, he usually gets it. When you’re asleep, he’s working. When you’re wasting time, he’s planning his five next moves. A new governor is on the way, and like Chris Christie eight years ago, that man will be walking into George Norcross’s world.