Jamie Fox, the ultimate New Jersey political insider, has died.
He was the ferociously loyal and protective fixer, who made other people look great; the political brainiac who made less stalwart intellects appear brilliant. He was Jamie Fox of Union County, who resurfaced in Lambertville later in life, all Jersey and all politics, and always respected.
Fox, 62 at the time of his death, served as chief of staff to Senator Bob Torricelli and chief of staff to Governor James McGreevey and later as commissioner of the Department of Transportation for Governor Chris Christie.
He was respected on both sides off the political aisle. Formerly a partner in Fox & Shuffler, Mr. Fox also served as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in 2002, Chairman of the Board of NJ Transit, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well as Deputy Chief of Staff to New Jersey Governor James Florio.
In connection with Mr. Fox’s role in Bridgegate, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman last year announced a criminal complaint against Mr. Fox Following the Port Authority’s former chairman, David Samson, plea of guilty to bribery, in connection with his role in securing a United Airlines flight between Newark Liberty International Airport and Columbia, S.C., near Samson’s vacation home.
That complaint disturbed a great many people who counted Mr. Fox a friend, confidant, and one of the smartest players of New Jersey politics. He planned to fight it to the end – but he didn’t get that chance. A whole generation of operatives grew up under the political tutelage of Mr. Fox, among them Kevin Hagan, Sean Darcy, Bill Caruso, Mark Albiez and many, many others.
When Gov. Chris Christie brought him into the administration in the aftermath of Bridgegate, New Jersey insiders saw a chance for the Republican governor to save his administration. For a year, Mr. Fox built the political infrastructure necessary to ultimately pass the gas tax to fix the state Transportation Trust Fund.
“All of New Jersey lost someone today and the reality is a lot of them have no idea what an impact he had on their lives in this day of social media it was a true testament to the man he was,” Hagan told InsiderNJ. “It wasn’t about him. It was always about someone else. If you wanted to be an operative, a staff person, someone who was influential but not an elected official, you wanted to be Jamie Fox. When I was a kid I wanted to be Michael Jordan and when I was an adult I wanted to be Jamie Fox.”
Mr. Fox’s partner, a grief-stricken Eric Shuffler, spoke to InsiderNJ this afternoon.
“I shared every moment of the last 25 years with him, and his loss is immeasurable,” Shuffler said. “He was unlike any person I ever met. He had a fierce sense of loyalty to people. His word was his bond. He treated everyone with respect, whether you voted with or against him. He played the game hard and for keeps – and he was better at it than everyone else – but he respected everyone in it. That was his gift. whether people were receptionists or governors – that respect for people is what made Jamie Fox truly special.”