1. Cory Booker
New Jersey’s junior senator remains a contender for the presidency.
2. Fabiana Pierre-Louis
Became the first African American woman in the state of New Jersey to become an associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
3. LeRoy Jones
The Democratic State Party Chairman continues to demonstrate leadership of his party, standing up to South Jersey power brokers and owning this year’s legislative redistricting process. Essex – where Jones also serves as county chairman – last year gave incumbent Governor Phil Murphy his biggest vote totals.
4. Sheila Oliver
The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey (a former speaker of the General Assembly) fills in for Murphy when he’s out of state and serves as commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs. As Acting Governor, Oliver proved a steady hand in the scary early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
5. Ras Baraka
The Mayor of Newark proved his leadership chops through the COVID-19 crisis. Close to the Governor, and aided by his brother, Chief off Staff Middy Baraka (see honorable mention) he submitted petitions this week to run for a third term. Possible future gubernatorial contender.
6. Donald Payne, Jr.
The bow tied Congressman from the 10th District hails from one of New Jersey’s most distinguished African-American political families, son of New Jersey’s first African American Congressman, the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Sr.
7. Bonnie Watson Coleman
The 12th District Congresswoman made history in 2015 when she assumed the oath of office as New Jersey’s first African American Congresswoman. A former Democratic State Party chair with a strong and independent progressive record, Watson Coleman keeps her own counsel and makes her own political moves. A survivor and a fighter.
8. Ronald L. Rice
The man no one pushes around, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam and veteran member of the New Jersey state Senate, Senator Rice survived numerous establishment attempts to eject him from power. Former chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Rice routinely gives voice – at personal and political cost – to the voiceless of New Jersey.
9. Troy Singleton
Schooled in the governing arts by former Speaker Joe Roberts, the 7th District state Senator from Willingboro moved quickly up the ranks of the New Jersey Legislature to win a state senate seat in 2017. He’s the point man in the legislature to ensure safe and clean drinking water for New Jersey.