NJ POWER COUPLES: InsiderNJ’s 2019 Edition

Justin Braz, Gov. Phil Murphy's Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs, and Stephanie Lagos, First Lady Tammy Murphy's chief of staff, have announced their wedding engagement.

If you’re eager to see InsiderNJ’s 2019 Power List, I promise you’re not alone because I’m breathless with anticipation, too! The Big List comes out this month but here’s a little something for anyone too parched and thirsty to wait that long.

This year’s lineup of NJ Political Power Couples is the juiciest one yet, all fresh names, no repeats EVER!

 

MARY CAMPBELL CRUZ & PRIMO CRUZ

A top lieutenant for Congressman Donald Norcross, Mary Campbell Cruz made a name for herself in the aughts by cleverly and strategically getting blue candidates elected on predominately red terrain. Mary was the architect and conductor for Congressman John Adler’s winning field operation back in 2008. It was one of the most electric campaigns in New Jersey political history. When Mary wed Primo Cruz, lawyer/politico extraordinaire and current city attorney for Lambertville, they became an instant power couple whose sphere of influence extends beyond their home base in Burlington County.

 

SARAH MIELKE HUCH & BEAU WILLIAM HUCH

Sarah Mielke Huch is NJ’s Deputy Attorney General in the Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau so let’s be honest don’t cross her. Her husband Beau William is the affable chief of staff for Senator Declan O’Scanlon and one of the loudest voices for moderation in the State House. The Monmouth-based duo just had their first baby a few months ago, their finest collaboration to date.

 

JENNA MELLOR & LOUIS Di PAOLO

Th co-fonder of the NJ Harm reduction Coalition, Jenna is probably NJ’s most committed needle exchange expert doing the gritty, often thankless work of protecting IV drug users from funky, costly blood-borne cooties like HIV and hepatitis. Jenna’s partner Louis is the communications director for the New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning, social justice-driven think tank. He’s also a former councilman for Dumont, Bergen County, population 18k. With an eye on the next generation, Jenna and Louis co-chair the National Leaders Council – NJ recruitment committee which is how they fell in love.

They’re not NLC’s first love match and they surely won’t be the last!

 

STEPHANIE LAGOS & JUSTIN BRAZ

Justin is deputy chief of staff in Gov Murphy’s administration and his portfolio includes legislative affairs among other things. A Peace Corps alum, Stephanie is NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy’s chief of staff helping  devise and implement an agenda that includes decreasing infant mortality rates in NJ. Recently engaged, Stephanie and Justin’s upcoming wedding will be a who’s who of NJ political power, past and present! Originally from North Jersey, they now reside in Bordentown, Burlington County.

 

KAY ELIZABETH LiCAUSI & MATTHEW McDERMOTT

Kay and Matthew are two of the most experienced, well-respected lobbyists in New Jersey. Kay runs her own shop, Hoboken Strategy Group, a government affairs and pr firm and Matthew is Senior VP at Kaufman Zita, the bluechip firm on State Street. They live in Hoboken, Hudson County.

 

 

TESKA FLOWERS-FRISBY & SAM FRISBY

Sam Frisby is the longtime freeholder in Mercer County, population 375k. Teska’s a community activist, fundraiser, and advocate for sensible gun policy with Moms Demand Action. Teska also works to provide and expand athletic opportunities for kids in Trenton. They’re the son and daughter-in-law of Jeannine LaRue, matriarch and conscience of NJ’s democratic party which makes Sam & Teska bona fide political royalty!

 

DR KHYATI JOSHI & JOHN BARTLETT

John is the Freeholder Director in Passaic County, population 515k and Khyati is a widely respected academic of considerable renown who also co-founded the NJ Dem State Committee’s South Asian Caucus. Recently Khyati was a presenter at the Governor’s Diwali celebration at Drumthwacket. This pair landed on my radar screen 2005-ish as vocal, high-profile straight allies for LGBT equality.

 

RACHEL HOLLAND & KEVIN DRENNAN

Kevin is a the executive director of the NJ Senate and a close advisor and confidant to NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney. Rachel is a prodigious fundraiser for the Robert Woods Johnson Hospital and a versatile, well-respected political and logistics pro. She was recently tapped to lead Mayor-elect Jeff Martin’s transition team in Hamilton, Mercer County where Rachel and Kevin currently reside.

 

LAURA BROADWELL RICCARDI & ANTHONY “AJ” RICCARDI

AJ’s a councilmen in Stanhope NJ, a quaint township population 3,500 located on lovely Lake Musconetcong in Sussex County. He’s also one of two Democrat state committee member from Sussex. Laura runs the Sussex Co Young Dems, providing a blue oasis for the next generation in a very red county. Their September wedding makes Laura & AJ the newest newlyweds on this year’s list.

 

UYEN “WINN” KHUONG & DAN JANOWSKI

This Madison, NJ-based pair created Post-it Posse an innovative GOTV tool. They also  had the largest VBM operation in the 2018 midterms. This August, Uyen and Dan worked with the Division of Elections and the State Legislature for the Vote By Mail (VBM) fix in the summer emergency session that prevented about 160,000 VBM voters from being dropped from the voter database. Uyen is also the founder and director of Action Together New Jersey, a progressive, grassroots group of 18k+.

 

HEATHER TAYLOR & DAVID BANDER

After a long stint working at NJ Citizen Action, the good government watchdog, Heather Taylor took her many considerable talents to the Dow Jones News Fund which promotes journalism careers in the digital age. Her husband David is a councilman for Plainsboro Township, population 23k, in Middlesex County.

 

FELISHA REYES-MORTON & BRYAN MORTON 

If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll discover that Camden City councilwoman-elect Felisha Reyes-Morton is fiercely loyal to, among other things, her hometown of Camden. She’s also on the advisory board of LUPE PAC, a political action committee for increased Latina representation. Her husband Bryan is founder and director for Parents for Great Camden Schools which advocates alternatives to the traditional public school model. They get bonus points for coaching Little League in North Camden in their spare time.

 

ERICA & JEREMY JEDYNAK

Jeremy’s the long-serving, at-large councilman from Rockaway Township in Morris County. Previously, he did a long stint in the Chris Christie administration.

After years working at Americans for Prosperity to, among other things, get the government out of our bong, Erica now directs employment initiatives at Stand Together where she fights to eliminate barriers and to level the playing field for small-time entrepreneurs.

 

CATHLEEN LEWIS & PAUL PENNA

Cathleen is a councilwoman for Lawrence, NJ, population 35k, located in Mercer County. She has advocated for progressive approaches to sustainability and infrastructure in four different gubernatorial administrations. Paul’s a well-respected political consultant and former ED of the NJ Democratic State Committee.

 

CELESTE & JODI ARGENTINO-FIORE

A power couple from Montclair comprised of two leading LGBT family lawyers, Jodi and Celeste tower above their peers with queer-friendly family law expertise that’s unmatched in the state of NJ. The pair married in 2016, 3 years after marriage equality became the law of the land.

Jodi and Celeste are the LGBT icing on this year’s cake!

On Thursday night, Cory 2020 state director Storm Wyche married Bergen operative and COS to Sheriff Anthony Cureton Derek Sands.

 

Didn’t see your favorite duo on the list? Perhaps we honored them in previous editions (2018 and 2017) so make sure to take a peek. We don’t repeat names so the archives stay extra fresh!

Lobbying for next year’s POWER COUPLE list commences now! Find me on Twitter@Jay_Lass.

(Visited 802 times, 1 visits today)

One response to “NJ POWER COUPLES: InsiderNJ’s 2019 Edition”

  1. Congratulations to all of the couples chosen! I would like to send a special Congratulations to Teska and Sam Frisby. May God continue to bless your union, your family and all that you do in service to the community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News From Around the Web

The Political Landscape