Longtime Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen died Tuesday. He was 87.
Thigpen had served as an East Orange councilman; Essex County freeholder; and as the president of New Jersey’s Electoral College, casting the state’s 14 electoral votes for President Obama in 2012, according to an obituary posted to NJ.com.
"He was a man of strong conviction, dignity," said Montclair Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville, who called Thigpen a unifying voice.
"He was able to bring people of diverse backgrounds together."
State Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver called Thigpen a great leader of not only the Democratic Party, but of politics in New Jersey.
"Mr. Thigpen was a leader among leaders, who earned the respect of all of those who knew him for his commitment and dedication to the party and its values,” Oliver said. “His contributions to Essex County are varied and date back decades and have certainly earned him a spot in Essex County history.”
Sen. Kevin O’Toole told PolitickerNJ.com that Thigpen, a former East Orange track star, commanded respect.
"He brought a unique and wise perspective,” O’Toole said. “He will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family.”