The top spot goes to…
Chris Christie (1)
He's top of the heap for the third year in a row. "How could he not be?" one insider says. "There's not even a close second." It takes more than just the keys to Drumthwacket to hold the top slot on the power list, and Christie "had a Cooperstown-worthy year," as another insider puts it. He got the Rutgers restructuring complete, took over the national spotlight while flirting with the White House, made Mitt Romney seem electable, and led the charge through and after Hurricane Sandy's devastation. In particular, the Sandy rebuild stands out; Christie proved his worth as a "constructionist ... strong, but able to reach out" to Democrats, as another source says; he couldn't do that if he were "a right-wing zealot." In fact, he took on those same zealots in giving Congress the tongue-lashing of a lifetime, scoring points by slamming "the palace intrigue," the "selfishness and duplicity" and the "callous indifference" to New Jerseyans. And while he's committed to running for governor in November, the White House seems much closer to Trenton than it ever has. "Bill Palatucci and Chris Christie would have been stomping around at midnight if Mitt Romney had won," a source says; there's "nothing in it for him" in a Romney administration. Now, he's "on a very short list of people who could be president in a few years." "What didn't he do," another source says wryly, "except maybe fix New Jersey's economy?"
FELL OFF FROM LAST YEAR'S LIST
Caren Franzini (5), Joe Taylor (8), Kevin DeSanctis (9), Mark Trudeau (15), Sol J. Barer (18), Nader Ghermezian (22), Woody Johnson (26), Roger A. Bodman (27), Ralph LaRossa (31), Phillip S. Schaengold (33), Robert Unanue (36), Louis Freeh (42), Richard Bagger (46), Laurence M. Downes (47), Wilbur L. Ross Jr. (48), John Finnegan (49), Dennis M. Bone (52), Stephen Holmes (53), Jeff Gural (54), Don Marrandino (55), John E. Zuccotti (58), Fred Graziano (59), Frank Spencer (60), Robert Iacullo (61), Debra DiLorenzo (63), Gerald Storch (64), Gerald Lipkin (66), Jim Devine (67), John Palmieri (68), Maxine Ballen (69), Raymond G. Chambers (70), Richard P. Miller (71), William P. Mumma (73), Leo Hindery Jr. (74), Joseph M. Sanzari (77), Denise Morrison (82), Joe Scarborough (83), John A. Papa (85), Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. (87), Michael Kempner (88), Debbie Hart (89), John P. Inglesino (91), Liza Cartmell (92), Beth DeFalco (93), Adrienne Kirby (94), Jim Allen (96), S. Dillard Kirby (97), Marcia McEntyre and Judy Larkin (98), Charlie Tomasello (99), Christopher Costa (100)
HOW WE DID IT
The list was compiled, ranked and written by the editors of NJBIZ, who considered candidates' involvement in top news events, standing in their industries, impact beyond the walls of their office buildings, and the amount of access they have to the top New Jersey business and government leaders. We talked confidentially to some of the state's movers and shakers to obtain insight about who should be on the list, but, in the end, this is a subjective list created by the editors. Send feedback to Sharon Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 246-5702, or Joe St. Arney at email@example.com or (732) 246-5726.