POWER RANKINGS: The Top 21 County Party Chairs

  1. Leroy Jones Essex County Democratic Committee

Full control of the county committee. Good relationship with Governor-elect Phil Murphy. Powered LG-elect Sheila Oliver in to get a statewide ally from East Orange in the Gov’s Office who also now gets him a instant cellphone-pickup Department of Community Affairs (DCA) contact. Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-29) loyal to him; Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-29), another loyalist, the new budget chair.

2. Kevin McCabe Middlesex County Democratic Committee

Engineered the speakership for Craig Coughlin, who yesterday assumed the oath of office. Has demonstrated longstanding ability now to hold together what was previously a divided county, which was critical to spring-boarding Coughlin. As a member of the Carpenters, he can claim membership in a powerful political brotherhood.

3. John Currie Passaic County Democratic Committee

Took a real hit yesterday. A hard hit. Paterson appears unsettled, with no controllable winner in gear. And not a single assembly-member from Currie’s county serves as the chair person of a committee, a consequence of Currie’s war with South Jersey, specifically Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3). But Currie is still Democratic State Party Chairman on the strength of Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s support.

4. Lou Stellato Bergen County Democratic Committee

Like Currie, he radiated weakness yesterday, most of his charges taking hard hits out of legislative leadership posts, payback for Captain Lou’s alliance with old high school football chum Currie. But he still stands astride a Bergen County on party lockdown. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Bergen was the Florida of New Jersey, a bellwether that in the Christie-Trump era has turned into GOP frozen tundra.

5. George Gilmore Ocean County Republican Committee

Lockdown senate delegation. Lockdown county committee. Will be in the driver’s seat this year in defense of U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3), the lone member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation to back Donald Trump’s tax plan. Weakened by scandal and innuendo over the years but still stronger than any other single Republican chair.

6. Bill Layton Burlington County Republican Committee

His former business partner is Governor-elect Murphy’s chief of staff. So there’s that phone call-away comfort zone that counts for a lot in Jersey politics. He still has control of the county, but the loss of a freeholder last year puts him in too-the-mattresses mode in 2018 if he wants to stay in charge in an era made especially politically turbulent by Trump, who ironically won BurlCo.

7. Shaun Golden Monmouth County Republican Committee

Ambitious, he’s talking about a potential 2021 guv run, and people are listening. County Freeholder control, he’s beaten back all of his rivals’ efforts to pick off a countywide seat, even in the worst weather. The county sheriff, he controls a sizeable government arm of the county.

8. Al Gaburo Somerset County GOP Committee

Tough. Strategic. Intelligent. A chunk got taken out of his armor last year when Democrat Steve Peter dethroned GOP Clerk Brett Radi. Will play a big role as the GOP attempts to turn back Democrats intent on turning U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) out of office.

9. James Beach Camden County Democratic Committee

No one single Democratic chairman in South Jersey stands out from under the giant legs of GN3, who, to quote Shakespeare, “doth bestride the [South Jersey] world like a colossus.” But it is Camden, after all, and Beach is in on the conversations of the on-absolute-lockdown Democratic county.

10. Keith Davis Atlantic County Republican Committee

Still controls the Freeholder Board. Picked up a 2017 win with Senator Chris Brown (R-2). May position former Assemblyman Vince Polistina (R-2) to be at least very competitive in CD2. A player.

11. Pat Torpey Hunterdon County Republican Committee

Controls an all-Republican Freeholder Board. Stout ally of Lance, who will be in a battleground race this year.

12. Mike Suleiman Atlantic County Democratic Committee

The candidate he backed (Frank Gilliam) won the 2017 mayoral election. He picked up a spare assembly seat. Stands to play a role in powering state Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1) past the GOP in the CD2 contest.

13. Peg Schaffer Somerset County Democratic Committee

The smart lawyer sniped a clerk’s seat last year. Stands to play a significant role in the recruiting, grooming and arming of a CD7 candidate this year.

14. Paul DiGaetano Bergen County Republican Committee

It’s all on the line for the vastly reduced party chairman who took a vain stab at the LD40 senate seat last year and in the process drove the party even further apart. He backs John McCann for Congress in CD5. If Steve Lonegan beats McCann in the GOP Primary, stick a fork in DiGaetano.

15. Vincent Prieto Hudson County Democratic Committee

Living on borrowed time in Hudson, Sports and Expo-bound Prieto went down along with every other Hudson delegation member. Yesterday’s committee leadership list revealed not a single Hudson assembly person in charge of a committee, the consequence of backing Prieto over Coughlin for Speaker.

16. Jerry Green Union County Democratic Committee

Senator Ray Lesniak’s retirement opened the floodgates of intra-party warfare, with Green in no position to play the role of enforcer. Weakened, the chairman nonetheless still has legislative standing as speaker pro tempore and a sizable seat at the table in the committee’s determining of a CD7 candidate.

17. Joe Andl Burlington County Democratic Committee

Sniped a freeholder win. Got outfoxed on LD8 when the GOP lost an assemblywoman. In position to capitalize on MacArthur’s budget vote. Intra-party warfare make him vulnerable as he attempts to secure another term in power this year. Volatile.

18. Arlene Quinones Perez Hunterdon County Democratic Committee

She derives her power not from being able to slap around a freeholder, but as a deep-in-the-weeds operative who pops up in unsuspecting territory, always with a politically muscled up point of view. ONe of the chairs in position to make a significant CD7 contribution.

19. Al Barlas Essex County Republican Committee

He’s a little like the Quinones Perez of Essex County. Or Quinones Perez is the Al Barlas of Hunterdon. Schooled by one of the best, state Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40), the party chairman has Xs and Os knowledge and a deep, statewide relationship network.

20. Dave Brown Monmouth County Democratic Committee

He was the chair in power when Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) fulfilled a decade’s worth of work and became the senator to succeed Jen Beck.

21. Glenn Mortimer Union County Republican Committee

Close to Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, he ate a bad loss in Westfield last year with the mayoral win of Shelley Brindle, but will be at ground zero of GOP rebuilding exercises.


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One response to “POWER RANKINGS: The Top 21 County Party Chairs”

  1. Difficult to see how Golden is #7. He lost an entire Legislative slate in 2 election cycles and can’t control his Freeholders. He has developed no bench for the county offices and had to run an 82 year-old for reelection because there was no one ready. (And, BTW, the next Guv race is in 2021 – not 2020.)

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