Where are they Now? The Campaign Team of the 2011 LD20 Dem Incumbents


Named the best legislative race of the last 20 years by InsiderNJ, in an all-out war, then-Assemblyman (and future Senator) Joe Cryan demonstrated superior organization in his hometown of Union Twp. while Senator Ray Lesniak – hobbled by double knee replacement surgery – kept the challengers bogged down in court.

Challenger Jerome Dunn and his team won Elizabeth, but the hinterlands delivered the win for the incumbents, who thereafter set about dismantling the Rafael Fajardo-led Elizabeth Board of Ed, which reached its political apex in this 2011 LD20 Democratic Primary.

The final score in the senate race was Lesniak 8,124 and Dunn 7,335. In the assembly contest, Cryan led the way with 8,161, followed by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (7,977). On the losing ticket, Monteiro received 6,743 and Cedeno 6,715 votes.

Lesniak retired from the state senate in 2017 and ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid. Cryan, who had left the assembly to serve as Union County sheriff upon the death of Ralph Froelich, returned to claim Lesniak’s senate seat. Quijano of Elizabeth, Lesniak’s and Cryan’s running mate, continues to serve in the assembly, at the side of Assemblyman Jamel Holley of Roselle, who replaced Cryan in the legislative lower house.

Here’s what happened to some of the supporting cast – likened recently by one operative to the Jersey operatives’ version of the 1992 men’s Olympic basketball team – who helped reelect the LD20 Democrats in 2011:

Scott Snyder (campaign manager): Principal, SJS Consulting; a top adviser to the Middlesex Democratic Committee, political home of Speaker Craig Coughlin.

Hiver Ambroise (GOTV): Business development for Maser Engineering.

Pat Politano (mail): Principal, Strategic Message Management; Union County Democratic Party operative.

Sean Darcy (messaging): Principal, Round World Consulting; successful veteran of two Democratic Primary wars: U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell over Steve Rothman (2012), and U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman over state Senator Linda Greenstein (2014), Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula and (future) Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.

Julie Diaz (chief of field operations): Chief of Staff of Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo, Governor Phil Murphy Administration; formerly political director of 32BJ SEIU.

Justin Braz (on the field staff): Governor’s Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs; formerly chief of staff of Assemblyman Gary Schaer.

Justin Shoham (on field staff): Principal, Enigma Consulting; formerly chief of staff of Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and Sheriff Cryan.

Ayinde Martin (on field staff): Administration, Office of Mayor Ted Green, East Orange; formerly chief of staff of former East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor.


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