NJ POLITICAL POWER COUPLES: InsiderNJ’s 2020 Edition

We’re all quivering with anticipation for InsiderNJ’s 2020 Power List which comes out later this month! In the meantime, here’s something to whet your appetite while awaiting the most epic Power List ever! What follows is a list of NJ Political Power Couples, in no particular order, all chosen by me with some help from InsiderNJ readers.

These dynamic duos drive the debate in Trenton and in NJ’s halls of power.

We honor that here.

LAURIE McCABE & KEVIN McCABE
Laurie is the long-serving chief of staff in NJ’s 19th legislative district home to Senator Joe Vitale, Assembly speaker Craig Coughlin and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez. Senator Vitale chairs NJ’s health committee giving Laurie McCabe an outsized, positive influence over the effort to curb COVID transmissions on NJ. Kevin is a lobbyist who also chairs Middlesex County’s reliable powerful Democratic committee. Mr. McCabe’s appointment as a commissioner at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by Chris Christie provides bonus bipartisan bona fides.

STORM WYCHE & DEREK SANDS

As last year’s list went to press, Storm Wyche, a top lieutenant on Cory Booker’s 2020 reelection campaign, was walking down the aisle in a dazzling, bejeweled ivory-colored wedding dress to be married to Derek Sands, a Bergen Co operative and and communications director for Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. We honor them, and their first anniversary, on this year’s list!

AMY KENNEDY & PATRICK KENNEDY

She married into the most storied, powerful political dynasty in American political history, but Amy Kennedy -daughter of a freeholder and city councilman- is no stranger to the political life. Amy scored a famous victory during last spring’s Democratic congressional primary race then came tantalizingly close to winning the general election to represent NJ’s 2nd district in Congress. For his part, Patrick is a former 8-term Congressman representing Rhode Island from 1995-2011. The couple, whose foundation is devoted to metal health and keeping pot illegal, live in Brigantine with their kids.

SAMANTHA DeALMEIDA & JOHN FRANCIS ROMAN

After helping end NJ’s shameful practice of marketing vape products to kids, Samantha became the Government Affairs liaison at New Jersey Associated Builders and Contractors where she’s also 2nd VP. Meanwhile, the voters in Linden just re-elected John Francis to a 2nd term on City Council where he’s a thorn of righteousness in the side of Linden’s mayor. Every year there’s been one politically mixed couple on the list. Samantha and John Roman keep that four-year streak intact.

WENDY KOMJATHY & AL KOMJATHY

Wendy’s service on the board of Lambertville Area Education Foundation has delivered years of grants to study arts, sciences, technology, and heath to students in the South Hunterdon Regional School District. Al is a Trenton super lobbyist whose decades of tenure give him power and influence in the state house and beyond. When Al and Wendy opened their home to celebrate the recent swearing in of Lambertville Mayor Julia Fahl, the place was packed to the gills with the good and the great of central Jersey politics. Their effortless wit and hospitality created what was, in all likelihood, the most fun and festive NJ political celebration everyone there had ever seen!

KIM SCHULZ & FRANK SCHULZ

Kim does the Lord’s work as assistant deputy public defender in Bridgeton, Cumberland County. She’s the law school textbook definition of a zealous advocate for her client. Frank, of US Senator Bob Menendez’ top lieutenants, also serves on the Mercer County Park Commission. Frank’s a rare specimen in NJ politics: someone unafraid to butt heads with and/or reign in his boss when necessary.

DANIELLE ALPERT & BRIAN ALPERT

Danielle is the VP at Strategy Group and a long time Trenton lobbyist. Brian is Deputy Executive Director for the NJ Senate Republicans. They’ve both been around for ages and both respected by both Dems and Republicans. They’re the kind of people you really wish would run for office.

“It’d be hard to find anyone in Trenton who had a negative thing to say about either,” one insider who advanced their nomination told InsiderNJ. “And even if you did, would say they’re both damn good at their jobs.”

⭐️ ALL STAR BONUS! ⭐️

We don’t typically do repeat power couples, but there are some duos from years past who deserve a reprieve:

2019 alums DR KHYATI JOSHI & JOHN BARTLETT

John is a Commissioner in Passaic County, population 519k and part of President-elect Joe Biden’s army of lawyers fighting right now to protect election integrity in key swing states. Khyati is a widely respected academic of considerable renown who also co-founded the NJ Dem State Committee’s South Asian Caucus, a growing and influential voting bloc in New Jersey. Khyati was a presenter at the Governor’s most recent Diwali celebration at Drumthwacket. This pair landed on my radar screen 2005-ish as very vocal, high-profile straight allies for LGBTQ equality.

2018 alums AMBER MARGENTINA & AXEL OWEN

While juggling a growing family, Amber is one of NJ’s most prominent voices working to keep the government out of your womb. Axel managed the campaign to legalize cannabis in NJ this year, an historic and lopsided victory that left cannabis prohibitions humbled and, for the moment, dumbstruck.

2017 alums  KARI OSMOND & JULIA FAHL

Kari runs Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman’s district office. Julia’s a Planned Parenthood alum who became mayor of Lambertville which made Kari the First Lady of the most political-wired town in NJ. When they’re not pushing their lesbian agenda, life centers around their elderly cat, Randall who, despite being half blind, is a perfect fit for two visionary moms.

(Didn’t see your favorite duo on the list? Perhaps we honored them in previous editions (2019 and 2018 and 2017) so make sure to take a peek.)

If you believe you and your mate were overlooked, lobbying for next year’s POWER COUPLE list commences now. Find me on Twitter@Jay_Lass.

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