John Wisniewski

John Scott Wisniewski (/wɪsˈnɛski/ wiss-NES-kee;[1] born June 28, 1962) is an American Democratic Party politician, who served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1996 to 2018, where he represented the 19th Legislative District. He was a Democratic candidate for Governor of New Jersey in the 2017 election, he lost in the primary election to Phil Murphy.

John Wisniewski
John Wisniewski headshot, 2012.jpg
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 19th district
In office
January 9, 1996 – January 9, 2018
Preceded byStephen A. Mikulak
Ernest L. Oros
Succeeded byYvonne Lopez
Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
In office
Preceded byJoseph Cryan
Succeeded byJohn Currie
Personal details
Born (1962-06-28) June 28, 1962 (age 60)
Perth Amboy, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseDeborah McLaughlin (1990–present)
ResidenceSayreville, New Jersey
Alma materRutgers University, New Brunswick (BA)
Seton Hall University (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website

Early life, education, and law careerEdit

Wisniewski was born on June 28, 1962, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.[2] He is of Polish descent, and the son of a factory worker.[3][4] He attended Sacred Heart Elementary School in South Amboy and Sayreville War Memorial High School in nearby Sayreville, New Jersey.[5]

In 1984, he received a B.A. from Rutgers University in English / Economics and was awarded a J.D. from the Seton Hall University School of Law in 1987, where he was a classmate of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.[6][7]

Wisniewski is an adjunct professor at Monmouth University.

He also owns and runs a general practice law firm, Wisniewski and Associates, L.L.C., based out of Sayreville.

Political careerEdit

Before joining the General Assembly, Wisniewski served on the Sayreville Cable Television Advisory Board, the Middlesex County Senior Citizen Housing Task Force, and the Middlesex County Planning Board.[6] He has also served on the Sayreville Board of Education's Building Utilization Committee. Wisniewski currently serves on the board of trustees for the United Way of Central New Jersey and is an Executive Board Member of the Middlesex County Arts and Education Council.

Legislative careerEdit

Democrats statewide saw a net gain of three seats in the Assembly in the 1995 elections, with two of the pickups coming in the 19th District where Arline Friscia and Wisniewski knocked off the Republican incumbents Stephen A. Mikulak and Ernest L. Oros.[8]

In the Assembly, Wisniewski introduced legislation that includes the Work First New Jersey Act, which required individuals to work at jobs or in community services as a condition of their benefits, the Dormitory Safety Act which required the installation of sprinklers in all dormitories, the School Bus Enhanced Safety Inspection Act which created new ways and standards by which a school bus was inspected, and the Athletic Training Licensure Act which required athletic trainers to be licensed. Assemblyman Wisniewski also sponsored the bill that was signed into law which increased the property tax reduction for Veterans and seniors, legislation designed to strengthen Megan's Law by keeping sexual predators away from areas where children go to school and play, legislation which required newly constructed elevators in residential buildings to accommodate stretchers, legislation which required the implementation of a fire command structure in mutual aid fires, legislation which required that cell phone use be noted in traffic accidents, legislation that established a penalty for the theft of someone's personal identification information, and legislation which established a scholarship program for the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On January 27, 2010, Wisniewski was selected to succeed Joseph Cryan as the Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.[4] He was succeeded by John Currie in 2013.

In 2011, Wisniewski was the Democratic Co-chair of the 2011 New Jersey Apportionment Commission, the group charged with redrawing the lines for the legislative districts following the 2010 Census.[9] Along with State Senator Loretta Weinberg, Wisniewski played a major role in uncovering the Fort Lee lane closure scandal.[10] He was a co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation tasked with investigating the scandal.[6]

In 2013, Wisniewski joined the overwhelming majority of his fellow Democratic Party members in Middlesex County in endorsing Frank Pallone, in a special election for U.S. Senate after the death of longtime New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.[11] He later endorsed the Democratic Party's ultimate nominee, Cory Booker.

In August 2015, Wisniewski voted in favor of funding Planned Parenthood in New Jersey, joining prominent New Jersey Democrats, including Sheila Oliver and Patrick Diegnan.[12] Wisniewski previously voted five times to outlaw or restrict access to abortion in New Jersey.[13]

He has also expressed that he would vote in favor of a gas tax hike only if Governor Christie was going to sign it into law.[14]

Wisniewski was reelected in 2015 by a wide margin.[15] He received the endorsement of numerous local newspapers, including the Home News Tribune, who also endorsed his running mate Craig Coughlin and fellow Central Jersey Nancy Pinkin and Diegnan.[16]

Transportation CommitteeEdit

In the Assembly he has served as the Deputy Speaker since 2004, was the Assistant Majority Leader from 2002–2003 and was the Deputy Minority Conference Leader 1998-2001. Wisniewski serves in the Assembly on the Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee (as Chair) and the Environment and Solid Waste Committee. Since 2000, he has chaired the state Fire Safety Commission.[6]

In his role as Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, Assemblyman Wisniewski led a fact finding probe into the state's E-ZPass system. Assemblyman Wisniewski is a prime sponsor of the Motor Vehicle Security and Customer Service Act which was signed into law on January 28, 2003. He was a prime sponsor of A-3392 which would consolidate two of the state's toll road agencies.[17]

"Bridgegate" Fort Lee lane closure scandal investigationEdit

He led the investigation into the Fort Lee lane closure scandal.[18] He expressed grave skepticism about Christie's claim that he did not know his aides had ordered lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge, and believes that the closures were illegal.[19] He has also said that if Christie is involved, it would be an impeachable offense.[20]

New Jersey Chairman for Bernie SandersEdit

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders announced on January 4, 2016 that Wisniewski would lead his New Jersey operation in his campaign for the democratic nomination in the 2016 United States presidential election.[21] Wisniewski cited Sanders' efforts to reduce income inequality and take money out of politics as the main reasons for his endorsement.[22] Being the only elected politician in New Jersey to endorse Sanders, Wisniewski was at the forefront of the Senator's campaign in New Jersey, attending mock debates and hosting fundraisers.[23] Clinton won the New Jersey Democratic primary by a two-to-one margin.

2017 gubernatorial campaignEdit

Wisniewski announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for New Jersey governor in the 2017 election in November 2016.[18] The contest between Wisniewski and Phil Murphy attracted attention because the two had supported Sanders and Clinton, respectively, in the preceding year's Democratic presidential primaries.[24]

On June 6, 2017, Wisniewski lost the primary election, coming in third place with 21.6% of the vote. Murphy won the nomination with 48.4% of the vote; Wisniewski also finished behind Jim Johnson. Murphy also won every county in New Jersey except for Salem County, which Wisniewski won.[25] Wisniewski subsequently supported Murphy in the campaign against Republican nominee Kim Guadagno.[26]

District 19Edit

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 19th District for the 2012-2013 Legislative Session are:[27]

Personal lifeEdit

He is married to Deborah (née McLaughlin) and has three daughters.[5][28][9]

They currently reside in Sayreville.[2]


  1. ^ 2Nothing's Impossible│John Wisniewski (D) NJ Governor Race Announcement Video2 on YouTube
  2. ^ a b Assembly Member John S. Wisniewski, Project Vote Smart. Accessed August 12, 2007.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-06-02. Retrieved 2014-06-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "Democratic State Committee picks Wisniewski to chair party". PolitickerNJ. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  5. ^ a b Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey - Two Hundred and Eleventh Legislature (First Session) (PDF). Skinder-Strauss Associates. 2004. pp. 270–271. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Assemblyman Wisniewski's legislative webpage, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed September 12, 2015.
  7. ^ [1] Seton Hall Law Magazine, Fall 2010, pages 17-18
  8. ^ Associated Press. "DEMOCRATS CHIP AWAY AT GOP IN ASSEMBLY", The Press of Atlantic City, November 8, 1995. Accessed July 7, 2010. "In the 19th, the Democratic sweep will bring John Wisniewski and Arline Friscia to office."
  9. ^ a b "New Jersey Apportionment Committee - Commission Membership". Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  10. ^ Lizza, Ryan (14 April 2014). "Crossing Christie". New Yorker. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  11. ^ Hayes, Melissa. "South Jersey Democrats back Booker, Pallone snags Middlesex, Holt releases video", The Record (Bergen County), June 19, 2013, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 16, 2015. Accessed January 10, 2018.
  12. ^ "How did your State Assembly Members vote on the 2015 Planned Parenthood funding bills, Find out here", New Jersey Right to Life. Accessed January 10, 2018.
  13. ^ Staff. "Anti-abortion lawmaker running for governor",, November 23, 2016. Accessed January 10, 2018. "Assemblyman John Wisniewski voted at least three times to outlaw abortion procedures and he voted twice to restrict access to abortion for some New Jersey women, but now he wants to be governor."
  14. ^ "Some see transportation projects dwindling in New Jersey | Lexington Herald-Leader". Archived from the original on 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2015-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  15. ^ "N.J. Assembly general election results 2015". 2015-11-03. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  16. ^ "ENDORSEMENT: Wisniewski, Coughlin in the 19th". 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  17. ^ ASSEMBLY, No. 3392, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed April 22, 2008.
  18. ^ a b Matt Arco, Bridgegate crusader Wisniewski announces 2017 run for governor, New Jersey Advance Media for (November 15, 2016).
  19. ^ "N.J. lawmaker: Christie's bridge scandal explanation "unbelievable"". Face the Nation. CBS News. 2014-01-12.
  20. ^ Isikoff, Michael (2014-01-11). "Democrat heading bridge probe says Christie could be impeached if he knew of closures". NBC News.
  21. ^ "Wisniewski endorses Sanders, leads insurgent's Garden State campaign". 2016-01-04. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  22. ^ "News & Media - John Wisniewski". 2016-01-05. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  23. ^ Alyana Alfaro (2016-02-17). "Phil Murphy on Bernie Sanders: 'I Like Him'". Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  24. ^ Mike Davis, Next guv battle: Clinton vs. Sanders, Jersey style?, App (November 25, 2016).
  25. ^ New Jersey Primary Results: Murphy Will Face Guadagno in Governor's Race, New York Times (June 8, 2017).
  26. ^ Dem primary opponents endorse Murphy ... 4 months later, The Auditor (September 30, 2017).
  27. ^ Legislative Roster 2012-2013 Session, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed January 31, 2013.
  28. ^ "Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski Bio Page". NJ Assembly Majority Office. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved September 12, 2015.

External linksEdit

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by Member of the New Jersey Assembly
from the 19th district

Served alongside: Arline Friscia, Joseph Vas, Craig Coughlin
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
Succeeded by