Joseph Colalillo (32)
He's done nothing spectacular over the past year, just quietly continued to go about the business of running one of the state's largest private employers in Wakefern. Given the difficulties in succeeding in grocery stores, that's suitably impressive in its own right.
Thomas H. Kean Sr. (62)
"A guy who a lot of people look to," is how one source describes Kean, and that's at least partly the reason the elder statesman was tapped to push the higher ed bond issue. The former Drew president got it done, just as he did so often when he held the keys to Drumthwacket.
Robert C. Garrett (2)
He continues to beat back court challenges to Pascack Valley's reopening, which should take place this year, and tapped the same for-profit partner to take over Mountainside Hospital last year. But insiders raised eyebrows over Hackensack UMC's debt load, and wonder if it can afford to do much more expansion.
Tim Pernetti (NR)
Pernetti fell off last year as the Big East continued to implode all around him, watching its most established schools head for greener pastures while weaker also-rans climbed aboard. "To his credit, he does an end-around and scores a touchdown" in getting a Big Ten invite, a source says.
Jim Gerace (NR)
The vice president of the Verizon region covering New Jersey "gets it," one source says. He's said to have a direct pipeline to the CEO, and cut his teeth in the tough-as-nails New York political scene. While predecessor Dennis Bone was "docile," the source says, Gerace is aggressive.
Finn Wentworth (45)
The man with the golden Rolodex figures to be a key cog in the Christie re-election machine, as he's in the background on projects important to the administration. "A quiet person of enormous influence," one source calls him. Meanwhile, his firm continues to pull off deals worth hundreds of millions.
David L. Rebuck (NR)
Rebuck's Division of Gaming Enforcement "stripped the Casino Control Commission," according to a source, as he's now at the helm of its regulatory efforts. That could get a lot busier if online and sports gaming both come to pass, as he'll be the one to figure out how such bets will be regulated.
Raymond J. Lesniak (40)
His signature accomplishment of 2012 — the move to legalize sports gaming in New Jersey — is now out of his hands as the courts take it up. Still, a Democratic insider notes, "Has there been a person that's been more engaged on economic development than Raymond?"
Robert Menendez (56)
A thorough victory over challenger Joe Kyrillos in the fall has put him in line for the foreign relations committee chairmanship, putting him "right at the epicenter" of relationships with allies. He's also the guy who will convince Frank Lautenberg not to run in 2014: "It's not South Carolina and Strom Thurmond."
Mary O'Dowd (38)
Plenty of New Jersey hospitals are in financial intensive care, as margins get squeezed ever tighter and additional regulations loom large. The challenge of keeping hospitals open will be felt more keenly by O'Dowd going forward, as more takeovers and for-profit partners push their way to the forefront.