George Norcross III, New Jersey’s once-powerful Democratic kingmaker, said on Monday that he would step away from politics, acknowledging what most other people in state government had only dared to whisper: that his clout and reach had faded significantly after a series of recent defeats.
“It’s time for others to lead the party,” Mr. Norcross told Politico New Jersey.
For decades, Mr. Norcross, an insurance executive, was considered New Jersey’s most feared and potent unelected politician. He wielded power from Camden, just outside Philadelphia, with alliances that often blurred the lines between the Democratic and Republican parties. For years he was both a close friend of the former House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and a member of former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club.
But in 2021, Stephen Sweeney, the Democratic leader of the State Senate and childhood friend of Mr. Norcross, lost a fight for re-election to a largely unknown Republican, Edward Durr Jr., who ran on a shoestring budget and a far-right platform. Several other legislative allies in South Jersey were also ousted as Republican voter turnout surged amid pandemic fatigue and culture-war battles over vaccines, masks and sex-education standards in school.
Soon after, Mr. Norcross, 67, was forced to resign his seat on the Democratic National Committee after reporting showed that he had registered to vote in Florida, where he now spends much of his time.
Mr. Norcross, who through a spokesman declined additional comment, told Politico that he had been “involuntarily pushed to a different place” and had been “sitting in the back seat” ever since.
He said he would remain focused on his extensive business interests in New Jersey.
“It’s easy to step away from New Jersey politics when New Jersey politics has already stepped away from you,” said Sue Altman, the leader of New Jersey’s left-leaning Working Families Alliance, a frequent adversary.
A super PAC linked to Mr. Norcross reported raising no money in the first quarter of the year in advance of November’s races for the State Legislature.
Mr. Norcross’s diminished political role, and reduced fund-raising, is also expected to alter the terrain for the 2025 race for governor of New Jersey among the already large field of Democrats who have signaled interest in running.