Raymond M. ‘Ray’ Durkin has served as chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee as well as the Essex County Democratic Committee.
Durkin grew up in the Vailsburg neighborhood in the West Ward of Newark, New Jersey. He was a member of the Newark Fire Department for 15 years, before becoming secretary to the county purchasing agent under former Essex County Democratic Chairman Harry Lerner. He became purchasing agent after Peter Shapiro defeated Lerner’s organization to become Essex County’s first elected executive in 1978. Durkin was an early active supporter of Shapiro.
Durkin was selected as Essex County Democratic Chairman in 1980. In 1985, when Shapiro was the Democratic candidate for Governor of New Jersey opposing incumbent Tom Kean, Durkin was named chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. Durkin helped Jim Florio win the Democratic nomination for governor in 1989 and also assisted Ron Brown in his election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee that same year.
Durkin served as state party chairman until 1990. He continued as Essex County party chairman until 1992, when he was retired from politics.
Durkin resides in Maplewood, New Jersey. His wife, Joan Codey Durkin, is the cousin of former New Jersey Governor Richard Codey and has served as Essex County Tax Commissioner. His son Christopher J. Durkin has served as Essex County Clerk since 2006.