Boss Norcross allegedly “stepping back” from N.J. politics

THE GODFATHER PART III, Al Pacino, 1990, © Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection, GD3 095, Photo by: Everett Collection (3721)

A misdirection?

Or a sea change in New Jersey politics?

Following a string of South Jersey electoral losses over the past few cycles and news of a renewed AG probe into allied organizations, George Norcross III is shocking many observers with his best Michael Corleone from Godfather III impression in a brand new interview with Politico. Long story short? While the legendary boss of the South Jersey Democrat Machine and insurance industry tycoon didn’t use the “R” word (retire), the state’s most enduring political powerbroker of modern times says he’s stepping back from the game…

…his standing changed after the 2021 election defeat of state Senate President Steve Sweeney, a childhood friend toppled by a virtually unknown MAGA truck driver. Combined with the losses of several state Assembly candidates backed by Norcross’ South Jersey machine, the results were stunning — a “catastrophic” blow from which his operation has not recovered.

Norcross says he was “involuntarily pushed to a different place” and has been “sitting in the backseat” ever since. After thinking through his future, Norcross says he’s ready to dramatically scale back his political activities and shift his focus to other professional and personal interests.

“We had a great run for almost 25 years,” he said in an exclusive interview with POLITICO. “And now it’s time for others to lead the party.”

What gives?? Particularly as South Jersey Democrats find themselves locked in a fight for their lives in LD4 and Gloucester County, the backyard of the Camden-based organization which runs the risk of being isolated by another bad cycle.

Guessing is probably a useless (albeit fun) exercise, but it’s very possible this is simply a matter of creating the appearance that he’s going out on his own terms.

Norcross’s South Jersey legislative and county-based power base is eroding (see above), and Phil Murphy isn’t willing to play ball with him like Corzine and McGreevey did. They hate each other. Intensely. While still rich as Croesus and a player regionally (he’s presently battling over control of Republic Bank), there’s little doubt that Norcross’s power peaked about 10 years ago during the reign of Chris Christie. He’s registered to vote in Florida, and rather than admit that he’s getting to pushed to the corner, the master politico might be trying to make his decline look like a deliberate choice.

Then again, Michael Corleone insisted he was out, too. Then they pulled him back in.

I for one will believe it when I see it.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.