Famous People in New Jersey Politics Who Started As Drivers

HOBOKEN – When 22-year old Sam Weinstein (pictured above, second from left) introduced himself as the driver of Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) at InsiderNJ’s launch party last week, Laura Matos of Kivvit made the observation that a lot of people started their lives in New Jersey politics as drivers.

In the words of another insider, “the driver always ends up becoming the mafia don, because he knows where all the bodies are buried.”

It got us to thinking about putting a list together of some of those individuals who got their start as wheel men, resulting in the following:

Roger Bodman

The Public Strategies Impact lobbyist and former Tom Kean cabinet member started in the political game as the driver of U.S. Rep. Millicent Fenwick.

Dick Codey

The former governor, former senate president, and long-serving senator from the 27th District served as the driver for Senate President Frank “Pat” Dodd of Essex.

Bill Baroni

The former senator from the 14th district and former deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was the driver for Assembly Speaker Chuck Haytaian, who in 1994 almost upset U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Mike Soliman

The partner at Mercury – and former state director for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez – drove for former U.S. senator (and former Congressman) Bob Torricelli.

Gerry Balmir

The LIUNA labor leader and Hudson County Freeholder served as the driver for Governor Jim McGreevey.

Anthony Vainieri

The Hudson County Freeholder was the driver of Senator (and North Bergen Mayor) Nick Sacco of the 32nd District.

Chris Christie

The Governor of New Jersey (and former U.S. Attorney) was the driver of former Governor Tom Kean, Sr.

Dave DelVecchio

The Mayor of Lamberville cut his teeth in Newark’s North Ward as the driver of Democratic Party leader Steve Adubato, Sr.

Joe Parlavecchio

The Newark East Ward Democratic Party power player got his start as the driver of Newark City Council President Louis Turco.

Brad Lawrence

The veteran Democratic political consultant and managing partner at Message and Media worked early in his career for Senate President Joe Merlino, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1981 and lost his bid for Congress in 1982 when he infamously told a handshake expectant incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Smith to “beat it, kid.”

Bill Palatucci

The political confidant of Gov. Chris Christie served as the driver for Governor Tom Kean.

Bill Stepien

The political strategist for President Donald Trump put on the white gloves and cap for the late U.S. Rep.Bob Franks.

Armando Fontoura

The Sheriff of Essex County drove former County Executive Tom D’Alessio.

Kevin O’Toole

The Essex County Republican senator drove Assemblyman John V. Kelly.

Jamie Fox

The late Democratic Party fixer – former chief of staff to Governor McGreevey – started in the political biz as the driver of 37th District Assemblyman D. Bennett Mazur.


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