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Troodler’s Top Ten Of 2014

As we bid farewell to 2014 and close the book on yet another year, it is an ideal time to look back at the past twelve months and reflect on all that transpired during that time. At year’s end we are subjected to an array of “Top Ten” lists. Movies, songs, sports moments, news stories–you name it, there is a list that ranks it. Politics is by no means immune to these seemingly endless “Top Ten” lists. And so, in that spirit, I present to you my top ten New Jersey political personalities of 2014.

10. Lou Stellato: The Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Committee had a banner year. After a long, dry run, Democratic representatives of the most populous county in New Jersey have made a comeback. Stellato displayed incredible skill in unifying the various factions in the powerful Bergen Democrats–a testament to his leadership, which greatly strengthened the party. He had oversight on some big victories in 2014, including the re-election of BC Freeholders David Ganz and Joan Voss, ensuring that the Democrats retained their 5-2 majority on the board, and Jim Tedesco’s election as Bergen County Executive. Stellato brims with confidence, and has the ability to motivate his party’s base to generate results at the polls.

9. Bill Pascrell: Quietly and convincingly, Bill Pascrell reminded us that he is a political force to be reckoned with. After redistricting led to a bruising primary battle in 2012 against then Representative
Steve Rothman, Pascrell emerged victorious on Election 2014 yet again against Dierdre Paul, a former Democrat who ran on the GOP line. By easily winning a 10th term in Congress with an incredible 69% of the vote, the 77-year-old Pascrell showed his adeptness at bringing his supporters to the polls when it matters most.

8. Paul Fishman: Although his name may not be familiar to most Jerseyans, Paul Fishman has the ability to drastically alter the Garden State’s political landscape that could almost shatter the political status quo. As the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Fishman is the prosecutor investigating the Bridgegate scandal. In the event that Fishman concludes that Governor Christie and/or his administration violated the law in any way relative to the lane closures in Fort Lee, his office could unveil indictments that could bring Gov. Chris Christie’s political career to a screeching halt.

7. Scott Garrett: Were the Democrats finally going to defeat Scott Garrett in 2014? Political newcomer Roy Cho was a charismatic and articulate challenger, and Democrats thought they found the key to besting Garrett. However, with Election Day looming and his challenger closing in, Garrett went on the offensive and successfully fended off an extremely spirited battle from the seemingly indefatigable Cho. When the dust settled, Garrett had scored an impressive 13-point victory.

6. Loretta Weinberg: As the Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg gets a lot of respect from her colleagues and wields lots of political power. In 2014 she flexed those muscles and heightened her profile by being one of the first to shine a spotlight on lane closures that played a central role in putting the Bridgegate on the front burner. As the co-chair of the joint legislative committee investigating Bridgegate, Weinberg is still trying to uncover the truth behind the “traffic problems in Fort Lee,” and is in a unique position to continue digging into what actually transpired.

5. Robert Menendez: Although he was not on the ballot, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee US Senator Robert Menendez was an authoritative voice on a wide variety of foreign policy issues. From his strong and outspoken position on curtailing Iran’s nuclear capabilities and imposing stronger sanctions, to his emergence as a staunch and strident defender of the State of Israel, Menendez made news throughout 2014 and demonstrated that he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right.

4. Steven Fulop: Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is making his presence known well beyond Hudson County. The young and energetic Mayor of New Jersey’s second-largest city is quietly positioning himself for a likely run for Governor in 2017 and is generating a lot of headlines along the way. His strong support for the newly-elected Newark Mayor Ras Baraka further bolstered his position. The former Goldman Sachs employee who enlisted in the Marines after 9/11 is clearly not one who is going to shy away from a fight. With his yeshiva background (he attended the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison and the Solomon Schechter School of Union and Essex) and grandparents who were subjected to the horrors of the Holocaust, Fulop has deep roots in the Jewish community and a keen understanding of the issues that our community faces. His talent and ambition may well catapult him to great heights.

3. Jim Tedesco: Jim Tedesco’s big win over incumbent BC Executive Kathleen Donovan was one of the bright spots for NJ Democrats. Donovan, had not suffered a countywide electoral defeat in a quarter-century. The former Mayor of Paramus and BC Freeholder shocked the political establishment with his victory and galvanized his party’s faithful, who rewarded him by showing up to the polls on Election Day.

2. Chris Christie: 2014 came and went, and Chris Christie is still standing. When the news of Bridgegate broke last year, people all but wrote him off. There was no way he was going to survive the scandal, they said. Yet Christie is still here and somehow still in the Republican Presidential possible mix for the nomination in 2016. Despite the controversy that follows him at every turn and the fiscal challenges that plague NJ, Christie is still laying the groundwork for a presidential run, and is building a national network to sustain such a campaign. As Chair of the Republican Governors Association, he was extraordinarily successful from a fundraising perspective and from a political standpoint. This is a testament to Christie’s resiliency. Bridgegate (or some other controversy) may ultimately bring him down, but for now, Chris Christie is still standing.

1. Cory Booker: After winning a special election in 2013 to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, Booker was on the ballot in 2014 and garnered a big win over Republican Jeff Bell. NJ’s junior Senator reinforced the beliefs of those who feel the sky is the limit for this one-of-a-kind political talent. With his charismatic and gregarious nature, incredible fundraising prowess, unique bipartisan approach, and larger-than-life persona, Cory Booker is a political force to be reckoned with. Booker’s command of the issues and ability to connect with his constituents have propelled him to great heights. With a newly-won six-year term ahead of him, expect to see Booker cement his position as one of the more high-profile members of the US Senate.

N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler

By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.

 

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