Home>Feature>Cimino will retire as top Assembly Democratic staffer

Anthony J. (Skip) Cimino. (Photo: Robert Diszler via Facebook).

Cimino will retire as top Assembly Democratic staffer

Hahn slated to become new Assembly Majority executive director

By David Wildstein, December 06 2021 12:03 pm

Anthony (Skip) Cimino, whose institutional knowledge helped a new Speaker navigate statehouse politics during a frenzied and sometimes chaotic period during Gov. Phil Murphy’s first term, will retire as executive director of the Assembly Majority Office.

He will be replaced by his current number two, Seth Hahn, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

A former two-term assemblyman and personnel commissioner under Gov. Jim Florio, Cimino stepped into the top Assembly staff job after the Craig Coughlin ousted Vincent Prieto as Assembly Speaker in 2017.

“It has been a pleasure to serve as Executive Director of the AMO for these past four years,” said Cimino.  “I have immense pride in the accomplishments of our caucus and have greatly enjoyed working with Speaker Craig Coughlin and for the people of New Jersey.”

Coughlin thanked Cimino for his service.

“I am extremely proud of all we have been able to accomplish together, and it is in large part to the leadership of Anthony ‘Skip’ Cimino. Skip’s experience was instrumental in the legislature’s ability to increase the state’s minimum wage, reform the state’s out-of-network medical billing practices and expand access to working families as we all work to recover throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Coughlin said.   “His love for the people of New Jersey has been evident in his time at the Assembly Majority Office and he will be missed.”

The 74-year-old Cimino, who served as president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton before taking the legislative staff post, has not announced his future plans.

“I am looking forward to the next chapter of my professional career and continuing to work closely with the Speaker and Assembly Members,” he said.  “I am exceptionally proud of our legislative accomplishments – raising the minimum wage, health care reforms, workplace fairness for women, and fighting for working families.”

Cimino became the first former legislator to return as a top staffer since Richard J. Coffee, a former state senator, Democratic state chairman and Mercer Democratic county chairman, returned to run the Assembly Democratic staff.

“These past four years have been incredibly challenging and one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life,” he said.

Cimino served as a Mercer County Freeholder and Hamilton Township school board member before his election to the State Assembly in 1987.  Republicans had flipped one Assembly seat in the politically competitive 14th district in 1985, but the GOP incumbent, Jack Rafferty, decided to seek re-election as mayor of Hamilton and not run for two offices in the same election.

In the 1987 primary, Cimino defeated Janice Mironov, then a former parole board commissioner, by 1,077 votes in the Democratic primary.  Cimino and Assemblyman Joseph Patero (D-Manville) won the general election about 10,000 votes.

But after voting for Gov. Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase, Cimino found himself on the wrong side of a Republican wave election in 1991 and lost his seat to Republicans Paul Kramer (R-Hamilton) and Barbara Wright (R-Plainsboro) by a wide margin.

Florio later named Cimino to a cabinet post – a job he lost two years later when Republican Christine Todd Whitman ousted Florio.

Cimino challenged Republican State Sen. Peter Inverso (R-Hamilton) in 2003, but lost by 9,886 votes, 59%-39%.

Hahn joined Coughlin’s staff in December 2020 as deputy executive director, a little more than a year after he left the Communications Workers of America to take a post with NJ United, a non-profit allied with the Assembly Speaker.

A former top political lieutenant of progressive labor leader Hetty Rosenstein, he spent ten years at the CWA as the Legislative and Political Director and was treasurer of the powerful CWA PAC.

He joins the Assembly staff with longtime progressive credentials as a board member of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance and New Jersey Citizen Action.  Hahn was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

After graduating Princeton University in 2004, the Highland Park resident was a field organizer for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s re-election campaign in South Dakota.  He was the national field director for the National Association of Letter Carriers before joining the CWA in 2009.

This story was updated at 12:41 PM with comment from Coughlin.

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