Kenneth C. Frazier (10)
On top of Merck enjoying another outstanding year, Frazier won praise for how he handled the Penn State nightmare, as the university trustee helped investigate the sex abuse charges that rocked the school. “Very few people thought Penn State would get off the mat so quickly,” a source says.
Stephen M. Sweeney (25)
The Senate president kept popping up as a potential future governor. "If you really want to see a Gettysburg, a Shiloh, in New Jersey, pit Sweeney against Christie," a source said during the talk. But in his current role, he's a counterpoint to Christie with the muscle to impact state policies and politics, another insider says.
Christopher J. Paladino (21)
"Right now, everyone's creating a model for Chris Paladino," says an insider. That's because the template Paladino has used to rebuild New Brunswick — one that's equal parts patience and incentives — has been a resounding success. He's "about to build a new city in New Brunswick" through the ambitious seminary project.
Kevin O'Dowd (4)
He's not a type-A killer, as we said last year, one source tells us, "but a babyfaced killer." The strong but "quiet" chief of staff "makes things happen without fanfare," says another source. But given the enormity of challenges and opportunities following Sandy, his stature falls below players like Ferzan and Brown.
Steven J. Pozycki (24)
No matter the project, it seems SJP Properties has at least a finger in the pie. Pozycki is involved in two of the major projects reshaping downtown Newark — the Panasonic and Prudential towers — and has other projects cooking in hot urban areas. "A really good year," an insider summed up.
William J. Palatucci (12)
The governor's best friend and political strategist was dragged through the presses when scandal enveloped CEC, but he's now at Gibbons and planning Christie's re-election campaign. "He's at the table and absolutely critical in fundraising for (the 2013) campaign and setting strategy in the state."
Michele A. Brown (NR)
The EDA chief replaces Caren Franzini on the list this year. Brown "has the governor's ear like no one else," a source says. That's key, because Christie "expects the EDA to be a vehicle to accomplish his mission." Christie clearly trusts her; in Sandy's immediate aftermath, Brown worked as a point person before Ferzan's appointment.
Al Kelly (20)
"How we plan, and what the Super Bowl really is, is all on Al," one insider says. That's a huge task, particularly with the NFL wanting as much New York exposure as possible. New Jersey must impress Kelly if it wants a significant share in the revenue windfall the big game brings.
Richard Smith (29)
Some very high-profile IPOs have stalled out in the poor financial climate — see Toys R Us — but Realogy raised more than $1 billion in its wildly successful offering in October. It's not a particularly powerful company, one observer says, but when housing rebounds, Smith "will be a lot more significant."
Mary Pat Christie (NR)
Instead of a fleece, the first lady wears a driver's cap as she steers Sandy relief efforts. The hurricane relief fund has brought in tens of millions of dollars, the question now is how to spend it. Plus, "she's got Bruce Springsteen and (Jon) Bon Jovi hanging out with her," a source notes.