Ken Kobylowski (NR)
The capable DOBI chief is fighting two battles: one on behalf of bankers, who are terrified of Dodd-Frank and Basel III compliance issues, and another with insurers who fear costs and changes associated with disastrous storms like Sandy. Kobylowski offers a reassuring voice and is respected in those industries.
Dennis Drazin (NR)
A source point out he's important because he's trying to save racing in Central Jersey, but even more so because he's preparing Monmouth Park to take sports bets, regardless of the lawsuit. "He's taken the lead when, for the most part, the Atlantic City casinos … have shied away from moving forward."
Annette Catino (51)
The dynamo keeps pushing QualCare's growth, by creating new partnerships and extending the insurer's brand. Catino is tough and more than holds her own in a very competitive marketplace full of executives with sharp elbows.
Albert Coutinho (NR)
"Front and center on every job package," an insider says. That's a result of Coutinho's working-class upbringing in Newark's Ironbound neighborhood. He often co-sponsors business-friendly bills with Lesniak: "He's definitely passionate about economic development … (and is) one of the main quarterbacks in the Assembly," the source adds.
Patrick C. Dunican Jr. (84)
He's at the helm of what may be the most politically connected firm in the state, now that he's added "jet fuel" by bringing Palatucci aboard. "He pulled off a coup with Palatucci," says one source; another adds that Gibbons is "in a hell of a different spot today" with that hire.
Joel Bloom (NR)
The NJIT president is overseeing the transformative Gateway Development Project of housing and retail to better integrate the campus and city, and brought in well-respected Monique King-Viehland to help. "It is an important project for Newark itself but also the bigger picture of New Jersey," says a source.
Barry Rabner (76)
He opened the new Princeton HealthCare hospital on Route 1, part of a $1 billion campus being developed in Plainsboro. Rabner continues to make sure other nearby suburban hospitals keep feeling the heat of the new competition.
Ray Pocino (72)
He got "building trades cozy with Christie," and then scored even more points by being the first union leader to endorse the governor's re-election. "Pocino's got the most political savvy of the group" of union leaders, says one Democrat. Another source notes Pocino's connections, saying, "He's got himself wired up. Ray's smart."
Emanuel Stern (13)
Competitors gnash their teeth when Stern's name comes up, because of his success or acerbic style — or both. He didn't have the same impact as last time around, when he essentially held a gun to the state's head to get an incentives law changed. But make no mistake, the guy is still a piranha.
Cory Booker (NR)
Newark's mayor was a national sensation when he rescued a woman from a burning building, and while he's yet to rescue Newark, he has a powerful presence on the national stage already. He plans to run for the U.S. Senate next year, putting heat on Lautenberg. Booker could go to Washington, D.C., and stay; he "could be Ted Kennedy," a source says.