After conducting a national search, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee has hired Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye as their new executive director.
An Obama campaign veteran, Olasanoye previously served as executive director of the Rhode Island Democratic Party.
He succeeds Liz Gilbert, who left after eighteen months to serve as president of the Milwaukee 2020 Democratic National Convention Host Committee.
“Kevin is a rising star in our party and I’m thrilled that he will be leading our excellent team at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “He has big shoes to fill in succeeding Liz Gilbert, whose leadership helped contribute to unprecedented midterm wins. I’m confident Kevin is the right choice to continue the tremendous progress our party has made in the last year and a half.”
Olasanoye is heading to New Jersey without any guarantees of staying more than six months. His new boss, Democratic State Chairman John Currie, faces a tough fight for re-election later this year.
Olasanoye, 33, joined the Rhode Island state party in 2017.
Like New Jersey, there was some discord among Rhode Island Democrats. Gov. Gina Raimondo faced a 2018 primary challenge from former Secretary of State Matt Brown and former State Rep. Spencer Dickinson and won 57%-34%. Raimondo win the general election by a 53%-37% margin in a rematch with Republican Allan Fung, the mayor of Cranston.
Olasanoye praised Gov. Phil Murphy, who controls the state party apparatus.
“Democrats across the country are taking notice that Governor Phil Murphy is leading New Jersey in a more progressive direction, and that inspiring leadership is a major reason why I was attracted to this position where I will be able to join in that fight,” said Olasanoye. “I can’t wait to get to work in helping NJDSC continue growing its impact and reach and pushing to elect more Democrats at all levels.”
Currie has called a meeting of county chairs on August 8 in East Brunswick to meet Olasanoye. Murphy is expected to attend.
A graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University Law School, Olasanoye began his political career as a finance assistant for Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Fogarty lost to the Republican incumbent by just 8,000 votes.
Olasanoye spent two years as a staff assistant to U.S. Senator Jack Reed and managed the 2012 campaign of Robert Craven for State Representative. Craven won the Democratic primary by 326 votes and went on to oust a Republican incumbent.
He was hired by the Obama campaign to serve as Connecticut GOTV Coordinator on the president’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Olasanoye spent four years working for the City of Providence, first as an assistant city solicitor and then as director of purchasing.
“After several years of unprecedented victories, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee has never been in a stronger position, and I’m elated to welcome someone of Kevin Olasanoye experience to our team as we continue to become even stronger, “said Currie. “We’re doing more to help elect Democrats at every level than ever before, and I know that Kevin will be an important part of those continuing efforts as we work to grow our Assembly majority and win county and municipal elections throughout our State.”
Currie’s running mate, Somerset County Democratic Chairman Peg Schaffer, said that she has “seen up close what can happen when grassroots energy is met with organizational support from our state party, and the result is unprecedented victories for Democrats.”
“Kevin Olasanoye understands this as well, and I am thrilled that he is joining our team and will be working with us to make a difference in New Jersey,” Shaffer said.