Former Gov. Richard J. Hughes, a Democrat who led the state from 1962 to 1970, was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame today, one of a list of 11 inductees who purportedly represent the state’s “best and brightest.”
Also on the list of inductees were nurse Dorothea Dix, drummer Max Weinberg, comedian Chelsea Handler, former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, Olympic gold-winning soccer player Heather O’Reilly, nuclear physicist Ralph Izzo, former Merck CEO Roy Vagelos, photographer Margaret Bourke-White, children’s book author Walter Dean Myers, and the Unanue family, the founders of Goya Foods. New Jersey Medal of Honor recipients were also inducted as a cohort.
“New Jersey is never at a loss for heroes and role models for coming generations,” NJ Hall of Fame chairman Jon Hanson said in a statement. “We are honored to celebrate the lives and contributions of these notable New Jersey luminaries throughout the state, at our terminals and Parkway service areas, and next year at our Entertainment and Learning Center at American Dream.”
Not on the list was Dr. Mehmet Oz, a native of Bergen County who is running this year for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.
In recent weeks, Oz’s Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman, has campaigned for Oz to be inducted into the NJ Hall of Fame as a way of highlighting his New Jersey roots. The comedic bid has drawn attention from several New Jersey figures, including Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), who sent a nomination letter to the Hall of Fame last week.
But the set of 2022 inductees was never going to include Oz anyways, because he wasn’t on the list of nominees to begin with. The 50 nominees for spots in the Hall of Fame were announced in April, and the voting process ended on June 30, several weeks before Fetterman began his campaign to induct Oz.
Of course, Fetterman and Pascrell could work to put Oz onto the Hall of Fame ballot for 2023 – but by then, the campaign will be over anyways. And depending on the outcome in November, the Hall may soon have to consider inducting U.S. Senator Mehmet Oz (R-PA) for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the great people of Pennsylvania.
See here for the full list of 2022 nominees.