- Cory Booker
New Jersey’s junior senator remains a contender for the presidency.
- Fabiana Pierre-Louis
Became the first African American woman in the state of New Jersey to become an associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
3. LeRoy Jones
The Democratic State Party Chairman continues to demonstrate leadership of his party, standing up to South Jersey power brokers and owning this year’s legislative redistricting process. Essex – where Jones also serves as county chairman – last year gave incumbent Governor Phil Murphy his biggest vote totals.
4. Sheila Oliver
The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey (a former speaker of the General Assembly) fills in for Murphy when he’s out of state and serves as commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs. As Acting Governor, Oliver proved a steady hand in the scary early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
5. Ras Baraka
The Mayor of Newark proved his leadership chops through the COVID-19 crisis. Close to the Governor, and aided by his brother, Chief off Staff Middy Baraka (see honorable mention) he submitted petitions this week to run for a third term. Possible future gubernatorial contender.
6. Donald Payne, Jr.
The bow tied Congressman from the 10th District hails from one of New Jersey’s most distinguished African-American political families, son of New Jersey’s first African American Congressman, the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Sr.
7. Bonnie Watson Coleman
The 12th District Congresswoman made history in 2015 when she assumed the oath of office as New Jersey’s first African American Congresswoman. A former Democratic State Party chair with a strong and independent progressive record, Watson Coleman keeps her own counsel and makes her own political moves. A survivor and a fighter.
8. Ronald L. Rice
The man no one pushes around, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam and veteran member of the New Jersey state Senate, Senator Rice survived numerous establishment attempts to eject him from power. Former chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Rice routinely gives voice – at personal and political cost – to the voiceless of New Jersey.
10. Troy Singleton
Schooled in the governing arts by former Speaker Joe Roberts, the 7th District state Senator from Willingboro moved quickly up the ranks of the New Jersey Legislature to win a state senate seat in 2017. He’s the point man in the legislature to ensure safe and clean drinking water for New Jersey.
11. Britnee Timberlake
The tough-minded, socially conscious 34th District Assemblywoman from East Orange and former President of the Essex County Freeholder Board, is poised to run for the senate seat in the newly redrawn 34th.
12. Nia Gill
The Montclair-based state senator from the 34th District stands atop the New Jersey State Senate as the governing body’s most fearsome inquisitor. But her opposition to party power – and notably her bad relations with Chairman Jones – put her on a collision course with a bad redistricting outcome. She’s ready to run for reelection off the line, but she would not be the favorite in a primary with former Governor Dick Codey.
13. Sandy Cunningham
The Jersey City-based state Senator from the 31st District has for years managed to stay on her feet in the internecine nightmare otherwise known as Hudson County politics.
14. Shirley Turner
The Lawrence-based state Senator from the 15th Legislative District remains one of the senate’s most dignified members, an expert on education issues, an independent Democratic voice, and a champion of government accountability.
15. Benjie Wimberly
The Assemblyman from the 35th District heads the Paterson Recreation Department, a perch he has used to build considerable power and influence as a coach for future leaders. A future Congressman, state senator, or Governor.
16. Herb Conaway
The most educated member of the legislature is both a medical doctor and an attorney. The 7th District representative chairs the Assembly Health Committee.
17. Gordon Johnson
The Englewood-based Senator from the 37th District easily won last year’s Democratic Primary and general election.
18. Tony Vauss
The no-nonsense Mayor of Irvington won a second term in office in 2018 with a walkover election, and this year seeks a third term with his allies, otherwise known as Team Irvington Strong.
19. John Currie
The long-time Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman served eight years with distinction as the chair of the Democratic State Committee.
20. Michael Hill
The longtime reporter and news anchor at NJTV – now the new Host of Morning Edition at WNYC – commands respect as one of the best newsmen in New Jersey. Aggressive but also elegant. Deep Newark family roots.
21. Derek Armstead
The Mayor of Linden easily won reelection in 2018 despite a strong challenge by the allies of Union County Democratic Committee Chairman Nick Scutari – now state Senate President. He continues to harry Scutari in a local political fight that long ago rose above the pushing and shoving stage.
22. Marty Small
Mayor of Atlantic City, Small last year won his first, four-year term as leader of the South Jersey seaside gambling mecca.
23. Larry Hamm
The executive director of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) commands instantaneous respect in the progressive community of New Jersey as one of the longest-standing frontline advocates for working people and communities of color.
24. Anthony Cureton
Elected in 2018 to supplant his disgraced predecessor, former NAACP Chapter head Cureton serves as the Sheriff of Bergen County.
25. Kenneth Clayton
The pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson stands at ground zero of one of New Jersey’s most challenged urban neighborhoods.
26. Shavonda Sumter
The politically-grounded Assemblywoman from the 35th District commands a power base in Paterson. Close to Chairman Currie. Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.
27. Bill Payne, Sr.
Deputy Chief of Staff to Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo the former Assemblyman is the patriarch of the Newark-based Payne family. Brother of the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, and father of actor Eric Payne, he is the author (along with his nephew former Assemblyman Craig Stanley) of legislation that created the New Jersey Amistad Commission.
28. Mila Jasey
Assemblywoman from South Orange now representing the 28th District.
29. Angela McKnight
Represents Jersey City and Bayonne as the 31st District Assemblywoman. Outspoken and tough.
30. Verlina Reynolds Jackson
Assemblywoman from Trenton representing the 15th Legislative District.
31. Linda Carter: Energetic Plainfield-based Assemblywoman representing the 22nd Legislative District.
32. Shanique Speight
Newark Central Ward-based Assemblywoman from the 29th District. A people-centered advocate.
33. Ted Green
The Mayor of East Orange cut his professional teeth as a karate instructor. Close to Essex County Democratic Chairman Jones.
34. Adrian Mapp
The Mayor of Plainfield won reelection by a close margin in 2021 and commands a strong power base in Union County.
35. Charles Boyer
Pastor at Greater Mount Zion AME, and the founder of Salvation and Social Justice, a nonpartisan Black faith-rooted organization.
36. Richard T. Smith
The Trenton native serves as the President of the New Jersey NAACP.
37. Antwan McClellan
The former Ocean City Councilman now serves as the legislature’s only sitting African-American Republican Assemblyman in the state of New Jersey.
38. Jonathan M. Sammons
Republican Sheriff of Gloucester County; beat the Democratic Party machine in 2021.
39. Middy Baraka
Brother and Chief-of-Staff of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
40. Mildred Scott
The Sheriff of Middlesex County.
41. Sean Spiller
President of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and Mayor of Montclair Twp.
42. Michellene Davis
A veteran of RWJ-Barnabas Health since 2009, Davis is the first person of color to serve as executive vice president in the health system’s history.
43. John E. Wallace
Former Supreme Court Justice and chair of the Joint Legislative Commission on Ethical Standards, Judge Wallace served as the tiebreaking 11th member of the Congressional Redistricting Commission.
44. Mo Butler
Partner at Mercury. Point man for Senator Booker.
45. Victor Carstarphen
Mayor of Camden.
46. Curtis Jenkins
Camden Councilman and longtime Laborers union leader.
47. Chris James
The former executive director of the Democratic state Committee and 1st Ward East Orange Council president.
48. Shanel Robinson
The former Franklin Twp. Councilwoman made history in 2018 as the leader of the Democratic Board of Commissioners ticket that broke the GOP chokehold on county government. Chair of the Somerset County Commissioners Board.
49. Kaleem Shabazz
Atlantic City NAACP president and Ward 3 council for Atlantic City.
50. Gilbert “Whip” Wilson
Camden County Sheriff.
51. Dwayne Warren
Mayor of Orange.
52. TJ Best
The only African-American on the Passaic County Board of Commissioners easily won reelection last year.
53. Tai Cooper
A former Deputy Chief Policy Advisor in the Murphy Administration, Cooper serves on the senior leadership team of the state Economic Development Authority (EDA).
54. Sarah Jones
The Director of Government Affairs at Blue Cross/Blue Shield emerged from Payne world to become one of the most dynamic veteran minds in New Jersey politics.
55. William Spearman
Fifth District Democratic Assemblyman.
56. Jonathan L. Young, Sr.
Camden County Commissioner.
57. L. Grace Spencer
Superior Court Judge and former Assemblywoman from the 29th District.
58. Stephenine Dixon
Top Democratic Party Operative based in Atlantic County.
59. Jeannine Frisby LaRue
Trenton-based power player with Kaufman-Zita.
60. Jiles Ship
President of the North Jersey Chapter of NOBLE.
61. Rebecca Williams
Union County Commissioner; former Council President in Plainfield and a New Democratic Party leader.
62. Tahesha Way
Secretary of State for the State of New Jersey and former Passaic County Freeholder.
63. Junius Williams
Legendary Rutgers University Professor and author.
64. Albert B. Kelly
CEO and Founder of Gateway Community Action Partnership.
65. Jerry Walker
Hudson County Commissioner. Former Seton Hal basketball star.
66. David Brown
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman.
67. Sam Frisby
Mercer County Commissioner.
68. Elton Custis
Camden School Board Member undertook a gutsy run 2021 run for mayor against the vaunted Camden County Democratic Machine with the help of key ally Amir Khan (see honorable mention).
69. Anthony Salters
Veteran, politically savvy chair of the Hillside Democratic Committee.
70. Rick Thigpen
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for PSE&G; son of the late Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen.
71. Rahaman Muhammed
Deputy Mayor for the City of Newark.
72. Alturrick Kenney
Surrogate for Essex County; close to Newark Mayor Baraka.
73. Lamonica McIver
Central Ward Newark Councilwoman.
74. Imani Oakley
Progressive candidate for Congress in the Newark-based 10th District.
75. Pat Council
Respected head of the Newark Recreation Department, Reverend Council occupies the Baraka Ticket this year as council candidate of the politically foundational South Ward.
76. Ernest Coursey
Veteran Atlantic County Commissioner.
77. Ruby Cotton
Paterson 4th Ward Councilwoman. Briefly served as Mayor of Silk City.
78. Cleopatra Tucker
The 28th District Assemblywoman from Newark.
79. Lilisa Mimms
At-Large Councilwoman from Paterson.
80. Charlene Walker
Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey; a vital voice during the redistricting process.
81. Fatima Heyward
President of the New Jersey Young Democrats.
82. Wayne Richardson
Respected Essex County Commission President.
83. DoItAll Kelly
Rapper and community activist running on Team Baraka as a candidate for the Newark West Ward Council seat.
84. Mamie Bridgeforth
Former Newark West Ward Councilwoman.
85. Chigozie Onyema
Attorney and community activist, running for as a candidate for the Newark West Ward Council seat.
86. Denise Ridley
Jersey City Councilwoman.
87. Angela Garretson
Union County Commissioner and former Mayor of Hillside. Spearheaded the 2020 movement to abolish the term “freeholder.”
88. Donna Pearson
Cumberland County Commissioner. Won against the odds in 2020.
89. Louise Rountree
Newark City Council at-large candidate affiliated with Team Baraka.
90. Larry Crump
Newark At-Large Councilman, son of Mildred Crump, running on the Baraka Team to secure a four-year term.
91. Patricia Perkins-Auguste
Veteran Elizabeth Councilwoman.
92. Rufus Johnson
Essex County Commissioner; close to Senator Rice.
93. Tyshammie Cooper
Essex County Commissioner.
94. Felicia Hopson
Burlington County Commissioner.
95. Dahlia Vertreese
Labor leader with the Operating Engineers and the Mayor of Hillside.
96. Gerry Gibbs
Principal at Capital Impact Group.
97. Romaine Graham
Essex County Commissioner.
98. Keiona Miller
North Plainfield Councilwoman. Organizes the annual North Plainfield Community Black History Month Celebration.
99. Frank Minor
The veteran Mayor of Logan Twp.
100. Gerry and Missy Balmir
One-two-punch Democratic Party operatives.
Eunice K. Dwumfour
Norman Deen Muhammad
William “Bill” Davis
Terrance L. Bankston
Oscar James II
Jane Warren Williams
Al-tariq Ibn Shabazz
Rev. Lanel D. Guyton
Jamila Odom Garnett
William Gallman, Jr.
Tracey L. Brown
Eric “Citizen” Payne
Khahil Chaneyfield Nass
Eldridge Hawkins, Jr.
Harold Johnson, Jr.
Allen Stephen Potts
Selika Josiah Talbott
Ronald C. Rice
Reverend John Givens
Ken Morris, Jr.
John Sharpe James
Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins