Walk to Washington train trip to return — in 2025

State chamber eager to tie return to gubernatorial campaign — while also giving successful ReNew Jersey Business Summit a chance to continue its growth

The Walk to Washington networking train trip to Washington, D.C. — on hiatus since the pandemic — will return in 2025 in what the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce hopes will be an unofficial kickoff to the 2025 gubernatorial campaign, ROI-NJ has learned.

State chamber CEO Tom Bracken, who has been searching for the proper way to bring the event back, was thrilled to confirm the news.

“We think this gives us enough time to do it right and bring the Walk to Washington back better than ever,” he said.

Bracken said a 2025 return makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • The gubernatorial race: The race for governor figures to be wide open on both sides. The Walk, as it has in the past, should provide numerous opportunities for candidates to get their positions out — both on the train and at parties in Washington, D.C.
  • The ReNew Jersey Business Summit: The Atlantic City event, which was originally announced as a replacement for the Walk, has been a huge hit — both in 2022 and 2023, when attendance jumped from approximately 650 to approximately 900. Hosting the ReNew Jersey Summit again in 2024 will enable the event’s stature to grow even more.
  • The logistics: The hotel that long held the Walk, the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, closed during the pandemic and did not reopen. The additional time will give the chamber more time to secure a new location (with the Omni Shoreham Hotel being a leading contender). The additional year also will give the chamber more time to work with Amtrak to secure a train for both legs of the trip — a more difficult scenario than many realize.

For Bracken, the ability to tie the event to the gubernatorial race was key.

“I think one of the motivating things for 2025 February is that it would be peak season for all the gubernatorial candidates — which, in the past, always bodes well for the train trip,” he said.

In addition to allowing the ReNew summit to gain additional traction in 2024, delaying the Walk to 2025 also gives the economy another year to recover.

The Walk to Washington train trip. (File photo)

Bracken said the chamber is concerned the recent banking issues — among other economic issues — could slow the economy and impact corporate spending in the coming months.

“We’re trying to avoid all that,” he said. “When we added it all up, between the repeat of the ReNew Jersey Business Summit, the potential banking crisis and the gubernatorial season, it just made sense for us to do the Walk again in 2025.”

What happens in 2026 remains to be seen. The chamber has discussed the idea of alternating between the Walk and the ReNew Jersey Summit. Having a smaller, one-day Atlantic City event in addition to the Walk also has been discussed. That will be worked out in the months and years ahead, Bracken said.

For now, the attention will turn to the Walk to Washington, which for decades has been billed as the greatest networking event of business and political leaders in the state. It was last held in 2020. Chamber officials said having the Walk return has been frequent request from its members.

“It’s the No. 1 question we’re asked,” he said. “People miss the Walk to Washington; we’re eager to be able to bring it back.”