Power Issue: I-P

From the arts to politics, these are the 101 most influential people in the Garden State.

CEO, Public Service Enterprise Group

The former college baseball player has won kudos from environmentalists for making PSEG greener, even though they want the company to shut down its large coal-fired plants in Trenton and Jersey City.  Izzo, 51, joined PSEG in 1992 and began climbing the corporate ladder, developing a reputation for strong people skills. That knack will be needed as PSEG faces major challenges in coming months, including development of the first state energy master plan in more than ten years.— JB

Governor’s Chief of Staff

As New Jersey’s environmental commissioner, Jackson, 46, received accolades from developers and activists alike for her ability to manage economic development while protecting the environment. But it is her intellect, keen listening skills, and ability to cut through bureaucratic morass to get things done that compelled Governor Corzine to pluck up this Princeton engineering alumna in October and make her his chief of staff. The question is whether President-elect Barack Obama plans to enlist her as well. Jackson is rumored to be on a short list for Christie Whitman’s old job as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.*—CC

*Update: After deadline, president-elect Barack Obama chose Jackson to head the EPA.

Minister, Activist

The pastor at Orange’s St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church for nearly three decades, Jackson, 54, has never held public office, but is considered the most influential African-American in New Jersey. As executive director of the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey, his reach stretches to more than 600 black churches, and for years he has placed himself at the center of some of the most divisive issues affecting the black community. He notably pushed the state to label racial profiling a crime, and has fought for Abbott school district funding and needle-exchange programs for drug addicts, and against predatory lending in the inner city. His next focus will be health care. “Reggie is a conscience,” Ron DelMauro, CEO of Saint Barnabas Health Care System, says. “He’s a voice for the black community, no question,  but I see him as a voice for all the citizens of New Jersey.”—Jill P. Capuzzo

Owner, New York Jets

A native of New Brunswick, Johnson, 61, has made the New York Jets enticingly New Jerseyan. An heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and a noted philanthropist, Johnson jumped at the chance to buy the team in 2000. Last year, he moved the team’s training grounds from Long Island to Florham Park, and has watched the team go through a turnaround season, all while a new Meadowlands stadium is in the works. Johnson is ecstatic about the training-facility move. In addition to new jobs and about $10 million in annual tax revenue for the area, the local real estate market and businesses stand to benefit from the influx of high-earning players. And the team’s charitable organization, the Jets Foundation, is prepared to reach out. “Part of our team philosophy is that everyone is expected to give back to the community.” —BS

State senator, Ex-Governor

Kean Jr. is low-key as politicians go. He is the last to brag about his family’s illustrious history, which includes politically minded ancestors dating back to the Continental Congress. Kean Jr., 40, learned his political chops working for U.S. representative Bob Franks and at the Environmental Protection Agency during the administration of George H.W. Bush. He joined the state Senate in 2003 and became minority leader four years later. He hit a bump in the road in 2005 when he lost his bid for the U.S. Senate to Robert Menendez; in the state Senate, his push to reform New Jersey’s pay-to-play practices has not proven to be a winner for Republicans.   The senior Kean, 73, is a respected GOP elder, considered the last of the moderate Rockefeller Republicans. He served as governor from 1982 to 1990 and then as president of Drew University, where he endeared himself to students by occasionally eating lunch in the cafeteria. They dubbed him “TK.” Kean also served as chairman of the 9/11 Commission and remains in the public eye through his weekly sparring in the Star-Ledger with his gubernatorial predecessor and good buddy, Brendan Byrne.—JB
Chairman, State Investment Council

After assuming his current job in 2002, Kramer re-balanced the state’s stock-heavy pension-fund portfolio with alternative investments such as hedge funds—a strategy that mimics well-known pension funds such as Harvard University’s. Now that some of the investments have gone seriously sour, Kramer has become a lightning rod for critics. The state also invested $700 million in preferred stock deals with Merrill Lynch and Citigroup and doled out another $180 million to now-defunct Lehman Brothers. Wall Street’s subsequent meltdown gutted New Jersey’s pension fund, causing losses of nearly $16 billion in recent months—with $9 billion lost in October alone. Still, Kramer defends his decisions, saying the state’s investment performance surpasses its peers. Kramer, 63, who is also head of Boston Provident LP, was a major fundraiser for the Obama campaign.—JB

CEO, Schools Development Authority

The state’s highest ranking Indian-American, Kolluri has been one of Governor Corzine’s most trusted advisers since he was  named to helm the Department of Transportation in 2006. The following year, the governor expanded his influence by making him chairman of the Turnpike Authority and the Atlantic City Expressway (he was already chairman of NJ Transit). Most recently, the 40-year-old Rutgers graduate took over the controversial School Development Authority, overseeing up to $30 billion in school construction projects.—JPC

Political Consultants

The partners in consultancy Message & Media are hardly brand names among New Jersey voters, but they are credited as the strategic architects behind victories for such Democratic names as McGreevey, Corzine, Menendez, and Lautenberg. Despite setbacks in some recent state Senate races, Lawrence, 53, and DeMicco, 56, are “still the guys you want on your team,” says one Democratic insider.—KS

State Senator

Lesniak’s legislative career dates back to Jimmy Carter’s presidency. From his Union office, Lesniak, 62, has championed legislation ranging from protecting minors from secondhand smoke in motor vehicles to a measure requiring licensing of mortgage solicitors. He also chairs the Senate’s Economic Growth Committee, which has some serious work to do. Any Democrat running in New Jersey would like to have Lesniak’s blessing.—PD


The state’s most vocal conservative is the first candidate to officially announce for the 2009 gubernatorial race. The former mayor of Bogota’s strong antitax and anti-immigration stands have gained him statewide and even national recognition. The head of the Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity, an antitax group, Lonegan, 52, recently has taken on Governor Corzine’s ethics-reform plan, calling it an assault on the freedoms of speech and assembly. (He even managed to get himself arrested on trespassing charges at a town hall meeting held by the governor.) An increasingly tax-weary populace provides Lonegan a base for his gubernatorial run.—JPC

Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre

Now in her nineteenth season as the artistic director and playwright in residence at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, Mann has brought fame and notoriety (and even a Tony Award) to the university theater program. Mann, 56, has overseen 90 productions at McCarter—including shows from playwrights such as Edward Albee, Joyce Carol Oates, and Nilo Cruz—featuring such stage and screen luminaries as Jimmy Smits and Frances McDormand. Mann’s own plays include an adaptation of Having Our Say, the story of the Delany Sisters, which went on to Broadway, and A Seagull in the Hamptons, which had its premiere at McCarter last spring.—JPC

Owner, New York Giants

The majority owner, president, and chief executive officer of the defending world champion New York Giants has been with the franchise for nearly twenty seasons. Mara, 54, took the reins of the team after the passing of his father, Wellington Mara, in 2005. The franchise is said to be worth about $900 million. With a Super Bowl championship under his belt and a new $800 million stadium being erected in the Meadowlands, Mara can take pride in the Giants’ achievements under his leadership. The team is poised to make a serious run this year at defending its title, a feat that would buoy New Jersey spirits (and pack the sports bars).—BS


The Star-Ledger statehouse reporter chose to stay put rather than take a buyout from New Jersey’s dominant newspaper last fall, cementing a career capped in 2005 by a shared staff Pulitzer for “comprehensive, clear-headed coverage” of Governor Jim McGreevey’s fall from grace. Margolin, 38, keeps a steady bead on Jersey politics via phenomenal sources and ruthless reporting. Colleagues have dubbed him a “lawnmower on jet fuel.”—DS

President and CEO, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

If Marino has his way, New Jersey’s largest health insurer will gain for-profit status—a move that could generate a $1 billion windfall for the state. The Newark-based company has flirted with the switch before, but Marino’s leadership could give it a better shot this go-round, industry observers say. Critics charge the move would be bad for consumers. Marino, 66, isn’t afraid of controversy. Early in 2008, he took plenty of flak for backing Governor Corzine’s toll-hike plan.—CJP

Ed McBride
Chief Counsel to the Governor

He was passed over for chief of staff when Governor Corzine gave the job to Lisa Jackson. But don’t expect him to fade away. McBride, 49, is still a key member of Corzine’s inner circle and has held previous positions with governors Jim McGreevey, Richard Codey, and Jim Florio. And if Jackson leaves to work for the Environmental Protection Agency, McBride could be a contender again.*—JAM

*Update: After deadline, Governor Corzine chose McBride to replace Lisa Jackson as his chief of staff.

Labor Leader

As president of Local 54 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union since 1996, McDevitt represents some 15,000 workers in Atlantic City casinos. As chairman of the Atlantic City Democratic Committee, he is consolidating even more power, especially since the state legislature recently lifted the ban on casino employees holding elective office as of 2009. McDevitt is credited with taking Local 54 from its mob-influenced past to its current profile as a service- and training-oriented organization. Only 46, McDevitt could have a future in elective office or may prefer to stay behind the scenes, à la George Norcross in Camden County.—RS

Lobbyist, Commentator

McQueeny, 59, runs Winning Strategies, an influential lobbying firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party. He was chief of staff for Senator Frank Lautenberg, with whom he is still close. But this big-deal political operative (and ex-Star-Ledger reporter) also has his own political-affairs TV show, Power and Politics, on News 12. Some observers wonder if this creates a conflict when he questions guests without revealing his Democratic links.—JM

Real Estate

Nobody knows how to make business feel at-home in New Jersey like Gil Medina. As commerce secretary under Goveneor Christie Todd Whitman, Medina helped pass business-friendly economic-development legislation and spearheaded complex negotiations to bring major relocations and expansions to New Jersey, including such heavyhitters as AT&T Laboratories, Barnes & Noble, and Hewlett-Packard. Today, as executive managing director of real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield of New Jersey, the 55-year-old Medina is courting more blue chips for the Garden State.—CJP

State Attorney General 

Since taking over as the state’s top law enforcer in 2007, this former counselor to Governor Corzine has walked a bipartisan line, joining forces with possible Corzine challenger Christopher Christie to take on tough issues and crack down on corrupt politicians. At 37, she has been described by the Star-Ledger as the state’s most powerful woman.—JAM


Minniti, 35, chef-owner of Bacio Italian Cuisine in Cinnaminson, serves as president of the South Jersey Independent Restaurant Association, a group of nearly 50 establishments that together are ridding the local scene of its diners-and-chain-restaurant reputation. Through restaurant weeks, farm-to-fork menu specials, and charity events, association members not only have filled their dining rooms, but also have forged partnerships with local farmers to buy fresh for your plate.—JAM

Activist, Attorney

Mohammed is a leading voice in New Jersey’s Muslim community. From his closet-size office in Clifton, the 45-year-old immigration lawyer has represented more than 30 detainees from New Jersey who have faced deportation since the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. Mohammed has also spent the last seven years conducting “sensitivity enhancement” workshops about Muslim culture and the Islamic faith for more than 10,000 people, including FBI and Secret Service agents, and judges from all over the United States. You can catch him almost any night on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC offering insights into the nuances of the Islamic world.—PD    

Amusement Park Owners

Jack, 47, and his brother Will, 51, fight for a lot in the Wildwoods, but then they ought to, because their businesses are the face of the island. They run the boardwalk’s two amusement piers and water parks. They own a half-dozen hotels and various buildings that house restaurants and entertainment venues. They serve on just about every civic and charitable board in the area, and Jack, the more vocal of the two, is the spearhead of the Doo Wop Preservation League, which seeks to preserve the architecture and spirit of the mid-twentieth century. “In Wildwood, we have proven that it is okay to be different, that it is okay to be wacky and not so tasteful,” he says. “We can’t be Cape May or Ocean City, but as long as we are clean and businesslike, we can be what we are.” —Robert Strauss


When the economy began to downshift in 2007, the redevelopers of Asbury Park switched their focus from luxury condos to revitalizing this oceanfront resort’s long-neglected boardwalk. The 61-year-old Mottola’s retail real estate investment firm, Madison Marquette, was brought in to jumpstart the renaissance. Working with the city’s master developer, Asbury Partners, the Bergen County native, who serves as president of the firm, has accomplished more in the last year than others did in two decades, overseeing everything from the multimillion-dollar renovation of the historic Convention Hall to the new shops now occupying the boardwalk’s previously rundown pavilions.—JPC

Labor Organizer, Political Operative

The choice of Mueller, 34, to head Barack Obama’s New Jersey campaign signaled her emergence as a statewide player. Mueller established herself in South Jersey as a carpenters union leader and by working on political issues with Camden County Democratic Organization co-chair Donald Norcross. She has also put in time on the Corzine, McGreevey, Lautenberg, and Menendez gubernatorial campaigns.—JAM


The son and stepson of the late Governor and state Supreme Court chief justice Richard Hughes, these half-brothers are part of a Kennedy-like political dynasty. A former Morris County prosecutor, Murphy, 59, ran for governor in 1997 but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Jim McGreevey. Hughes, 52, has served as Mercer County executive since 2003. During the last election cycle, the brothers found themselves on opposite sides of the Obama-Clinton and Lautenberg-Andrews’s races. With election season over, Hughes’ name has been bandied about as a possible gubernatorial replacement if Governor Corzine were to join the Obama administration.—JPC

Businessman, Polictical Boss

Norcross, 51, backed Rob Andrews’s failed Senate bid, but that has not taken any clout from this South Jersey political giant and former chairman of the Camden County Democratic Party (now led by his brother, Donald). Norcross, who made millions in insurance and banking, has never held elective office. But his fundraising prowess alone, not to mention his close ties to Assembly speaker Joe Roberts, makes him a state powerhouse. It also helps that he is exceptionally smart and notoriously ruthless. Want something done? Get Norcross behind it.—JAM

Labor Leader

As vice president of the Laborers International Union, Pocino can mobilize 25,000 New Jersey workers to support the Democratic candidate of his choice. A longtime New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioner, he’s also on the board of the Port Authority, served on the Corzine transition team, and was part of a committee that tried to help sell the governor’s toll-hike plan to the public.—KS

Education, the Arts

He has been described as “what passeth for God” in Newark, she has been called one of the most respected and admired museum leaders in the country. Clement, 63, is a historian and distinguished professor at Rutgers University’s Newark campus, and Mary Sue, 57, is executive director of the Newark Museum. The two have been married for twenty years, and although they shy away from the term “power couple,” they certainly hold sway in this ever-changing city, and for good reason. In addition to bringing world-class art, educational excellence, civic dialogue, and historical appreciation to Newark through the plethora of roles they play, they have stuck with the country’s third oldest city through some of its most difficult times—Clement arriving one year after the riots of 1967, and Mary Sue joining the museum’s public relations office in 1975. “This city rewards people who dig in and try to contribute to the general public good,” says Clement. “That might be an aspect of what we would call, not power, but civic prowess. No one would question our fealty to the city.” —Jessica Kitchin

To read about the rest of our power players, click on the links below:




Bill Baroni

Reginald T. Jackson

Woody Johnson

Will and Jack Morey

Clement Price and Mary Sue Sweeney Price

Shirley Tilghman

Loretta Weinberg

Ted and Nina Wells

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