Kim Guadagno (19)
Close watchers of the administration say there's friction between Christie and Guadagno, though she'll be on the ticket again this year. But she does serve as a comforting voice to executives, as she's willing to visit the corporate front lines to see how Trenton can improve its business reputation.
Bernard M. Flynn (39)
The "authoritative voice on insurance issues," as one source calls him, has his hands full in managing the fallout from Sandy. Still, he's sought after by lawmakers, who want his expertise in managing the storm after the storm. Flynn says NJM will pay out some $300 million in claims following Sandy.
John Mara (NR)
The battle pitting the Jets and Giants against the American Dream developers is all Mara, who a source says will do anything to block mall traffic on game days: "You talk about holding hostage … it's Mara." Woody Johnson lost juice in backing Romney, the source adds, and is "along for the ride."
Jennifer Velez (NR)
The Human Services commissioner "is going to be much more of a power player" in the coming year, a source reports. Velez will have a major role in determining what Medicaid and health care reform are going to look like in New Jersey — and how changes to those establishments are going to be felt by employers.
Greg Brown (11)
"Important, but the heavy lifting's done," is how one source characterizes Brown, whose main job was to find Barchi. He's now focused on raising money for more construction projects. "The fortune of Rutgers will be defined on its success over the next four years," another source says; Brown helped put those pieces in place.
Mitchell E. Hersh (37)
He's reinvented Mack-Cali through the acquisition of Roseland, and now sits atop a powerful REIT with a capable residential division that's specializing in multifamily urban infill development — one of the only real estate sectors to hold its own during the devastating downturn.
John R. Strangfeld (7)
Prudential's CEO committed to Newark with a new office tower, the design of which could be make or break for the city. A developer says it could become a gateway to University Heights and attract pedestrian traffic, or a gated area that locks employees within. "How they decide to stay in Newark is critical."
David Samson (17)
A good friend of Christie, and "when you look at the big things going on," like American Dream, "his firm is involved." But the Port Authority continues to draw fire; "if you had a mike in every car, you'd hear a word or two that wouldn't be too complimentary" to the agency.
David Alan Tepper (28)
Along with Norcross, Tepper is called an invisible architect of the tenure reform initiative that went down last year. Sources call him "the single most important business person in the state" and say "there are few people with a stronger Rolodex." Another source points out "he has more money than God."
William Mullen (44)
Ask Democrats and Republicans for the most influential union leader, and Mullen tops all their lists, perhaps because he is close with both Christie and Sweeney. Expect Mullen's building trades group to do well with the influx of construction expected from Sandy rebuilding and the higher ed bond issue.
Correction appended: Jennifer Velez will have a major role in determining what Medicaid will look like in New Jersey. An earlier version of this story was incorrect.