InsiderNJ’s 2020 Elected Officials Power List – Insider NJ

By | November 10, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy

The most powerful elected official in New Jersey. It doesn’t matter who sits on the throne, the governorship of this state represents one of the most powerful elected offices in the country, even on those occasions – critical during COVID-19 region-sensitive times – when the occupant takes his cues from New York. Heading into a reelection year, says he has his dream job.

Mayor Ras Baraka

Educated, the Newark leader actually has a cultural context in which to make humane decisions about his city. It’s a stunning command position in a contemporary atmosphere in which self-referencing usually forms the extent of an elected official’s knowledge base.

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28).

Senator Ronald L. Rice

No one tells the Newark senator what to do except the people who elected him – a rarity in New Jersey.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) at today's event.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell

Starting with his early call for President Donald J. Trump to release his tax returns, the old school Paterson congressman got in Trump’s face and stayed there, like an army drill sergeant riding a grunt on KP duty.


U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill

The North Jersey congresswoman – a former Navy helicopter pilot – has shamed an entire generation of male elected officials who thought that collecting dust as the instruments of the wills of unelected bosses was enough to answer to the designation “man.” In her first reelection bid this year, she beat down her Republican opponent by an unofficial tally of 186,050 to 146,435 (56-44%).

Watson Coleman

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

The Mercer-based congresswoman got to the dance on her own merits and has maintained her own progressive vision in Congress. Walked over a Republican challenger last Tuesday.

Van Drew tonight

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew

Democrats couldn’t get rid of the South Jersey Republican (a former Democrat) this year, though they tried. He convincingly defeated general election challenger Amy Kennedy 52-47%.

Senator Dick Codey

The former governor has emerged as a beloved elder statesman. An independent-thinking gem.

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Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg

The Bergen-based senator is a cagey backroom operator, and a North Jersey champion of liberal causes and good government (see her role in Bridgegate).


Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney

The senate president had a good year in the halls of Trenton, guaranteeing that the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) will not again try to run the most expensive legislative race in American history against him.

Menendez and Co.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez

Hudson-based powerbroker.


U.S. Senator Cory Booker

The ebullient junior senator destroyed his sadly overmatched Republican challenger by 61-37%.


Senator Troy Singleton

Aggressive and intellectually hyperactive on the bills-writing front, the BurlCo-based state senator has also excelled politically in his home county, where Democrats have more than just taken over.


Speaker Craig Coughlin

Mild-mannered lower house game manager.


Senator Mike Testa

Powerhouse South Jersey Republican state senator from Cumberland County.


U.S. Rep. Andy Kim

The BurlCo-based congressman mowed down his Republican challenger this year with a crushing 2-1 margin of victory in his home county.


Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco

The first responder county leader showed courage and compassion during the early ravaging days of COVID-19 at ground zero in Bergen. He will not soon be forgotten.


U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer

The financially well-connected incumbent Democrat never gave any oxygen to his Republican challenger,  beating him unofficially by a margin of 54-44%.


Senator M. Teresa Ruiz

She’s really come into her own, the Newark-based state senator who chairs the Senate Education Committee, leaving no significant urban-community-impact legislation unattended.

Malinowski and Pascrell.

U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski

The Central Jersey-based congressman put a humiliating 54-46% beatdown on a hapless campaign-thrashing Tom Kean Jr.


Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop

No one pushes the Marine around, a rarity in New Jersey politics. Faces reelection next year.

Essex Freeholder President Brendan Gill

Close to Governor Murphy. Essex eyes and ears.

Insider NJ's Fred Snowflack discusses how Gov. Phil Murphy's absence at a ceremony held by Senator Joe Vitale to commemorate the signing of a bill by the governor that expand the rights of sexual abuse victims is very telling.

Senator Joe Vitale

Middlesex-based senator, chair of the Senate Health Committee, distinguished himself in the COVID crisis. Possible future senate president.

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Senator Nick Scutari

The Senate Judiciary Chairman has tried to provide clarity amid the pot haze of legalization.

Pallone, Malinowski, Payne.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone

Powerful energy-minded seaside congressman.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith

Don’t mess with the Republican who depends on major love from Ocean County.


Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small

He had a strong year, winning the referendum election, then the primary, then the general, to secure the remainder of a term currently held by corruption-catapulted Frank Gilliam. Goes for the full, four-year term next year.

DiVincenzo, left, and Menendez.

Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo

Powerful Essex County brand.

Norcross at Picatinny.

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross

Gave South Jersey Democrats something to celebrate this year. Ventured north (above) during campaign season.

Senator Joe Cryan

The Union-based senator has one of the best policy minds in the state. Possible future senate president.

Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle

The boss of Westfield, up for reelection next year.

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.

Newark-based congressman.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick

Placeholder for a self-funder Republican candidate for governor next year along the lines of a Bob Hugin or John Crowley.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh

Local leader of New Jersey’s third biggest city, who injects into any room the energy of a skydiver jumping out of an airplane.

Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin

Effective Budget Committee chair.

Assemblyman John McKeon

Intellectually astute lawmaker put his fingerprints on many of the most significant pieces of legislation this year.

Assemblyman Ryan Peters

A Navy SEAL. Not too many of those floating around New Jersey politics. It is said that they’re already polishing a senate seat for him.

Senator Paul Sarlo

Pragmatic South Bergen senator.

Senator Nia Gill

The best inquisitor in the state senate.

Latinas in action: Ruiz, Pou and Quijano

Senator Nellie Pou

Reform-minded senator from Passaic County.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon

New Jersey will not soon forget the guy – a staunch Republican – who not long ago stopped that horrible camera-ticketing scheme.

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Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly

The tough guy football sideline prowler coached a Super Bowl champion.


Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss

Strong city manager mayor with impressive political chops.


Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin


Somerset Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson

Now leads an all-Democrat freeholder board after this year’s D sweep.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo

Old school principled lawmaker.

Assemblyman Gary Schaer

Passaic City power broker, in tandem with Mayor Hector Lora.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli

Policy-astute lawmaker. Budget expert.

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora

Local leader of New Jersey’s capital city.

U.S. Rep. Albio Sires

Likeable, perennially affable congressman from Hudson.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla

Up for reelection next year.

Mayor Wilda Diaz

Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz

She’s so powerful and independent, they rearranged the election to make it 50% plus one, which she now faces, probably against Councilman Helmin Caba.

Senator Vin Gopal

Rising Democratic Party star from Monmouth County.

Somerset Clerk Steve Peter.

Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter

The final VBM totals in his county were 183,000 – or what he predicted. The Board is still working on Provisionals.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen

Crusty Republican from Morris County makes a habit of (trying) to keep Democrats honest in Trenton.

Moench in Bridgewater

Bridgewater Mayor Matt Moench

Talented local Republican from Somerset County’s biggest town.

Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake

Came on strong in 2020 on the COVID-19 legislative front.

Hunterdon County Clerk Mary Melfi

She just did a VBM election in a red county where she brought in 85% turnout (best in the state) and 1400 provisional ballots (lowest in the state). ‘Nuff said.

Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin

Leader of key swing town.



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