100. Moody's/Standard & Poor's (NR)
“You know who should be No. 1 on your list? … I’m serious,” a longtime follower of all things Jersey started. “Whoever is in charge at Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s for New Jersey’s bond rating.” The ratings drops are such a huge expense for the state and for cities when they bond, they said. It’s a huge loss. And if they were to be knocked down one more time ... well: “You want influence? You want power? Tell me someone else who has more of it.”
99. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NR)
It’s hard to imagine that one of the oldest and more prestigious names in state history is making it on to the Power 100 list for the first time. Credit the midterms. “With Republicans being back in power in the House, he is one of the most powerful Republicans in the House,” said one. “On the appropriations committee; he’s the most powerful person in our House delegation.” For one simple reason: “He’s going to be awfully important as we look for dollars for roads and bridges.”
98. Tom Kean Sr. (99)
Here’s another selection from a year ago that some questioned. Not us. And we’re thrilled to see the state still has room (and reverence) for its elder statesmen, especially one as distinguished as Kean. But make no mistake about it, this isn’t a ceremonial selection: “When that guy speaks, people listen,” one insider said. “The governor went after his son, and the governor came back on his knees and apologized.” Another simply referenced Kean’s era: “He’s an E.F. Hutton-type of guy.”
97. Wayne Hasenbalg (77)
He leads a state agency that could be changing around him, at least under a proposed merger of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and the state Meadowlands Commission. But some believe the legislation would consolidate power with Hasenbalg’s shop. Whatever happens there, he’s still executing Christie’s plan to remake the sports authority and the Meadowlands Sports Complex — even if it gets ugly as with the recent closure of the Izod Center.
96. Jim Kirkos (NR)
The head of the Meadowlands chamber always has been the perfect booster for North Jersey, and he’s making his presence felt again with his push for a redeveloped sports complex. “His job is to be an advocate, and he’s a good advocate,” one source said. “He’s smart and he knows what he’s doing, and he’s working to create the right atmosphere to make sure the Meadowlands region is not forgotten.” You can bet that will be the case when the public votes on expanding gaming beyond Atlantic City to North Jersey.
95. Monica Smith (NR)
Forget the fact that her Marketsmith, a data-driven marketing company, is one of the fastest-growing in the country (it will do well over $100 million in revenue in 2015; Smith also makes the list for being a champion of diversity and philanthropy. She personally has taken in five foster kids and her company has adopted a grade school in Newark, supplying it with the food and supplies it needs to succeed.
94. Pat Foye (100)
Some felt our inclusion of Foye last year was just an intriguing way to end the list in light of Bridgegate. Not so. We saw his growing importance and it remains. “I think Pat Foye gets moved up — or Pat Foye’s surrogate gets moved up,” one insider said. “You could take him off, but I wouldn’t take him off, because until he’s gone, he now is the unilateral control in the Port Authority.”
93. Philip Norcross/Donald Norcross (NR)
It’s good to be the brothers of one of the most powerful people in the state. And while some have said Donald’s ascension to the House actually makes him a little less powerful in the Garden State, others mention Phil’s growing influence. “George is the guy that got his brother elected to Congress, but Phil is a guy that has developed a wonderful law firm,” one insider said. “I’m sure it’s great to be George’s brother, but he has got influence.”
92. Paul Fireman (NR)
The chairman of Fireman Capital Partners and former head of Reebok International has billions at his disposal and is eager to spend it in New Jersey. He already has proposed a a 95-story tower with a casino for Jersey City. While he’s waiting to see if (and where) gaming will come to North Jersey, he can count on his beautiful golf course for entertainment — as the PGA is bringing the Presidents Cup to Liberty National Golf Course in 2017, one of 10 events coming in the next 25 years. “Fireman’s got a big stake in the future casino business and he’s got the Presidents Cup,” one fan said. “He’s a guy who is a little bit below the radar, but he’s for real.”
91. Jeff Gural (78)
He made our list last year because of his potential to be powerful. The head of the Meadowlands Racetrack still has that potential. “He knew he was getting into a proposition where, for a period of time, he was going to lose money, and he’s losing money,” one insider said. “But he’s always banked on the back end that he was going to more than make it up.” The prospect of a casino at the Meadowlands Sports Complex is stronger than ever. And Gural, who has a deal to recoup any lost money if he is not part of the ownership group, still appears to us to be holding a winning ticket.
90. Debbie Hart (NR)
As CEO of BioNJ, all she does is represent the all-important life sciences industry in New Jersey. As one industry colleague said, “They set the policy. Debbie rounds up CEOs and CFOs and says, ‘What’s our position?’ and ‘I’m going to go fight for it.’ When she walks into the governor’s office she is speaking for all of them.” She is a regular on the speaking circuit because, as another source said, “If you’re in that side of the industry, she is the go-to person.”
89. Bernard Flynn (80)
Some of our insiders have lamented the fact that CEOs aren’t always engrained in the fabric of the state. No one said that about Flynn, the head of New Jersey Manufacturers. “Bernie is a very good advocate for New Jersey,” one said. “What he’s trying to do transcends New Jersey Manufacturers. He’s actually working for New Jersey.” Another went a step further: “He’s really put himself into the fabric of a CEO who wants to do good things for New Jersey,” the person said. “I just think he’s a really good example of what a CEO could do to not only promote their own interests, but New Jersey.”
88. Keith Banks (NR)
He’s the CEO of U.S. Trust, and even though its headquarters sit in New York City, don’t discount his influence in the Garden State. A former Power 100 selection makes a return — that’s what happens when you’re on the Rutgers board, still live in Essex County and count Mary Pat Christie as a close friend. “Major banks aren’t domiciled here, and even the ones who operate here are from outside the area,” a source said. “He’s a player in his own right, and he happens to be a New Jersey guy that has tentacles besides being a banker.”
87. Caren Franzini (NR)
The former head of the EDA (and former Top 10 power list selection) returns this year. The efforts of her firm, Franzini Consulting, played a part in getting key players together in the launching of the Seton Hall-Hackensack school of medicine, but that was just one of her successes. “She has tremendous relationships with people who can make things happen,” an admirer said. “Michele Brown loves her. The developers have extraordinary respect for her statewide. Nancy Cantor … relies on her counsel, not necessarily as a consultant — as a human being.” Her knowledge of economic development, however, sets her apart. “If you had to base (the list) on the respect that people have for her in her chosen field — which is economic development — and her ability to make you listen, (she’s on it). Another summed it up thusly: “I know that she’s a clear thinker, objective, knows the business and never operates in her own self-interest. Never.”
86. Michele Siekerka (NR)
It’s tough for association heads to make the list, but it was an easy call for the newly appointed Siekerka at the NJBIA. “She’s going to take BIA to a whole new level,” one insider said. “I think she was a really smart choice.” The face of business in Trenton, many are convinced Siekerka was the right person to succeed longtime NJBIA head Philip Kirschner. “I know the environmentalists are saying she’s too pro-business, but I think she’s smart and she’s balanced,” a source said. “She has to be on the list,” said another.
85. Thomas Bracken (91)
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president will always have a loud voice in Trenton, especially under a business-friendly governor, but Bracken has done well to get in front of one issue in particular: the Transportation Trust Fund. He leads ForwardNJ, a coalition formed last fall that includes a mix of business, labor, transportation and consumer advocates who push for a sustainable and constitutionally dedicated funding source for infrastructure projects. He’s the best — and most important — association leader in the state.
84. Amy Mansue (74)
The head of Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside would be a top 10 pick of the leaders in the state who are well-liked and well-respected by others. “I think for what she does with that hospital and for children, she’s tough to beat,” one insider said. The only question: What’s the next move for the longtime health care and government expert? “I think Amy’s star is rising,” another source said. “I’m a big fan of Amy. She’s talented with a great trajectory.”
83. Jay Biggins (68)
As head of Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co., he is one of the state’s go-to experts on site selection and corporate incentives. And his Princeton-based business certainly wasn’t hurt by the sweeping incentives overhaul that took hold in New Jersey last year. Sources also say his firm’s business outside the state is nothing to scoff at, either. It’s a secretive business, as companies and state’s do not want to tip their hands; Biggins is one of the people you go to if you want to quietly see what’s available.
82. Joe DiVincenzo (33)
The Essex County executive is on the list because ... he’s the Essex County executive, a role he has effectively done for years. “He’s (still) one of the kingpins in Essex County,” said one. Observers are eager to see where he lines up in the 2017 gubernatorial campaign.
81. John Wisniewski (21)
It’s tough to get anything but a hardcore reaction to Wisniewski, depending on your side of the aisle. There’s the good (“The most qualified person to be governor is John Wisniewski”) to the bad (“He’s a joke”) to the ugly (He should be on there “for being a pain the ass”). The leading figure in the Legislature’s Bridgegate investigation, Wisniewski, said to be considering a run for the top job, has at least one ardent supporter: “Think about the guy who just keeps getting hit in the head by a 2x4, who really, with only a minor exception, has been articulate, elegant, dogged, persistent — sounds like a reasonable public servant — and really reasonably apolitical.”
80. Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff (NR)
As New Jersey looks to find solutions for its money problems all over the state, look no further than Sidamon-Eristoff, the state treasurer, and Thomas Neff, his deputy. They will be keys to any actions; they will be forced to deal with a lot of tough issues. Sidamon-Eristoff’s role cannot be understated. “He is influential because the budget this year will dictate priorities for the entire next 18 months,” one insider said. “And he is the key guy.”
79. Annette Catino (46)
A veteran of our Power 100 and Power 50 Health Care lists, Cattino is back again — and it has more to do with staying ahead of the curve on health insurance rather than being the strong head of a woman-owned business. “I think Annette should be on the list,” one fan said. “Obviously, Qualcare is pretty important.” As is health care and insurance. These issues are remain in the forefront.
78. Bob Sommer (75)
The longtime political operative and former head of Rock Entertainment makes our list again for his role as Jersey City’s unofficial No. 2. “Bob Sommer could be your Jersey City person because he’s really going to be Fulop’s operative guy,” one insider said.
77. Laurence M. Downes (NR)
He’s another utility executive who could get the governor on the phone if needed. The chairman and CEO of Wall-based New Jersey Resources is an EDA board member, and he accompanied Christie on his recent trade missions to Mexico and Canada. Said one insider, “When they went to Toronto, Larry was the brains of the operation on the energy side. There’s nobody better in the state.”
76. Carlos Rodriguez(89)
ADP is one of the 10 biggest public companies in the state, but it values its ranking on diversity listings (it’s been on the DiversityInc Top 50 five times) as much as revenue rankings. That starts with Rodriguez, its CEO. “He’s a guy that believes in diversity,” one admirer said. “When you see his team, they are very diverse individuals. He talks the talk, walks the walk, so to speak.” Not that he brags about it: “He’s a real humble guy,” the insider said. “That’s probably the first thing that you notice, how down to earth he is to be running such a large and important organization.”
75. Michael Kempner (NR)
All the national talk is about Christie. You may remember someone named Hillary, too. Kempner, the head of MWW Group, is Clinton’s No. 1 person in the state of New Jersey, said one political enthusiast. “If Hillary wins the primary, he will have anything he wants nationally.” Until then, he has his work at MWW: “It’s an incredibly impactful lobbying firm in the state of New Jersey, which has R’s and D’s throughout it.”
74. Linda Bowden (64)
There’s the fact the local head of PNC bank is so well-liked and well-respected across the state. And then there’s the idea that she is the face of the franchise, out front on all of the public initiatives of the company. Then there’s this: PNC has more branches than anyone else in the state. In an era when banks are contracting locations, PNC’s ubiquitous presence throughout the Garden State keeps it connected to so many small and midsized companies. “She’s very good at what she does,” one fan said. “She’s very effective.”
73. Emanuel Stern (58)
It’s hard to imagine having a list without the longtime president of Hartz Mountain on it. Gus Milano is now taking that role at the company, but Stern still figures to be calling the shots at one of Jersey’s biggest developers. And, as always, he’ll do it with gusto. “He grabs something — and I admire this quality; it’s not a negative — he grabs it, he fixes it, stretches it, fights it, spits it out and, if he doesn’t get what he wants, he steps on it and sues you afterward,” one contemporary said.
72. Kris Singh (NR)
Who? It’s OK if you don’t know the CEO of Holtec International, the global company that was awarded $260 million in incentives to relocate to Camden from Marlton. “There’s not another company and person that has as little profile (in New Jersey), but has one of the largest profiles in markets around the world,” said someone familiar with Singh’s work. “He is without a doubt one of the wealthiest people in New Jersey.” A good comparison, the insider said, is Henry Rowan: “Nobody knew who he was (until he made a large donation to the university that now bears his name).”
71. Denise Morrison (56)
She’s the most prominent female CEO in the state, running one of its top companies. “Just one of those that has to be on the list,” one insider said. Last winter, the company got a boost when Subaru announced it not only wanted to come to Camden, it wanted to be the first tenant of Campbell’s long-delayed 13-acre office park.