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Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas

Al Barlas joins Mercury

Essex GOP chairman signs on with DuHaime, Soliman, Butler public affairs firm

By David Wildstein, February 11 2020 3:24 pm

Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas has joined Mercury Public Affairs, a national public strategy firm that has established a strong presence in New Jersey over the last decade.

Barlas was ranked as #32 on the 2019 New Jersey Globe Power List for having “strong relationships on both sides of the aisle and an extraordinary reach throughout state and local government in New Jersey.”

At Mercury, he joins two other top-tier Power Listers: Michael Soliman (#14) and Mo Butler (#20).  Soliman is the top political advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Butler handles local politics for U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Soliman was the New Jersey Globe Politician of the Year in 2018 after directing Menendez’s landslide re-election victory.

A third Mercury partner, Michael DuHaime, was a top advisor to Gov. Chris Christie for eight years and his lead strategist in two gubernatorial campaigns.  DuHaime was the New Jersey Globe runner-up Consultant of the Year in 2019 after winning tough re-election races for Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and now-State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton).

Barlas joined Princeton Public Affairs in 2017 after serving as chief of staff to State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove), now the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.   He has been the Essex GOP chairman for nine years.

He also served as chief of staff to State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) and was the legislative director to State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) when he was serving as an assemblyman.

His addition to the Mercury team gives the firm an expanded reach at the Port Authority, which has a budget that is larger than six U.S. states.

Mercury has also announced that two other state government veterans have joined their New Jersey operation: Randy Minniear, a former chief of staff to Senate President John O. Bennett III (R-Little Silver); and LaVar Young, who worked in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration as director of the Office of Civic and Social Engagement at the New Jersey Department of Education.

Minniear spent a decade running government affairs for the New Jersey Hospital Association.

“We are thrilled to add three unique and talented leaders to our New Jersey team,” DuHaime said.

Soliman said that Barlas, Minniear and Young “bring diverse policy and political expertise that will help our clients continue to navigate the ever-changing public affairs world in New Jersey, New York and Washington, DC.”

“Bringing this team into our operation is critical to our growth in New Jersey and beyond,” Butler said. “Each brings an expansive knowledge from both a local and a state government perspective, which will help our clients in the fields of healthcare, education and beyond.”

Former twelve-term Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor), who held senior posts on the House Armed Services and Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, joined Mercury as member of the advisory board last September.

Mercury recently announced that former four-term U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California would serve as co-chair of the firm.

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