SOMERSET HILLS, NJ - The morning of Saturday June 24, the bad news started to get out among New Jersey Republicans that 31-year old Rick Rosenberg had died suddenly and unexpectedly at his Ocean County residence. Pols from Somerset County and all New Jersey found themselves in stunned disbelief, and as the news sunk in, a love vine sprouted up around Rosenberg’s memory on social media.
Most recently, Rosenberg managed the gubernatorial campaign of Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. Ciattarelli did not register in the public opinion polls when he announced his candidacy in October. Under Rosenberg’s leadership, Ciattarelli won county conventions in Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer, Union, Middlesex, Burlington and Essex Counties, and raised enough money to qualify for state matching funds. Ciattarelli qualified for the televised debates, and gave two memorable debate performances, before finishing second in the Republican primary with thirty-one percent of vote.
Somerset County Republican Chair Al Gaburo was among the many mourners who made the trip to South River for Rosenberg’s wake. Gaburo attended with his longtime friend and business partner Dale Florio, both of whom worked closely with Rosenberg on the Ciattarelli campaign.
“Rick Rosenberg was one of the finest political minds of his generation. He was taken from us entirely too soon,” said Gaburo. “He will be missed every day in ways great and small.”
Rosenberg was on the job around the clock for the Ciattarelli campaign, but his signature achievement during the campaign was Jack’s upset victory at the Middlesex County Republican Convention. For the second time in his career, Rosenberg engineered a Middlesex convention win against the Republican establishment. This time his client, Jack Ciattarelli, won by a 2-1 margin over the eventual nominee, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
Somerset County Library Board Chair Christopher Corsini mourned Rosenberg on Thursday. Corsini, who witnessed Rosenberg’s handiwork at the convention, shared his thoughts on Rosenberg’s passing:
“Rick was a fantastic political operative and an even better person. He was a pro’s pro with knowledge, instincts and humility far beyond his years,” commented Corsini. “His loss is simply inconceivable."
The 2017 Middlesex upset was not Rosenberg’s first upset victory. In 2005, a nineteen-year--old Rosenberg pulled an upset by winning a seat on the South River Board of Education. Later that same year, the political phenom engineered a Middlesex GOP convention victory for gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler.
Rosenberg built his reputation and resume through the years. He came into his own when he joined Chris Russell Consulting. Many observers saw Russell and Rosenberg as the perfect partners, poetry in motion. The pair advised and produced media for campaigns in every part of New Jersey.
When Russell eulogized Rosenberg at the funeral service on Friday, he remembered Rosenberg as his friend and "the best business partner anyone could hope to ask for."
"And despite barely being in his 30’s, Rick was a mentor beyond his years to young people who had been bitten by the political bug," Russell continued. "He encouraged them to get involved and to pursue their dreams."
Rosenberg's family will set up a scholarship fund in his memory.