In New Jersey, an Uphill Race for Senate Resets the Gold Standard


“Hands Across New Jersey.”

That was the name given to the grassroots movement that came together in response to the $2.8 billion tax increase New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio pushed through after taking office in 1990.

Florio, a Democrat, had said throughout the campaign that he saw “no need for new taxes.” When he went back on his word, the state erupted.

Bumper stickers such as “Impeach Florio” and “Florio Free in ’93” were distributed widely across the state at Hands Across New Jersey rallies. The movement officially was non-partisan, but its activism worked to the advantage of Republican candidates.

Jeff Bell wants to bring about a similar explosion to shake up New Jersey’s political status quo.

Bell is in an uphill fight to unseat Cory Booker, the incumbent Democrat, in the Nov. 4 election for U.S. Senate.

Booker, 45, the former Newark mayor who prevailed in a special election last year to fill the remainder of Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term after his fellowDemocrat’s death, is well-known, well-funded and widely expected to win handily.

But Bell, a political lifer who knocked off four-term incumbent Clifford Case in the Republican primary for Senate in 1978 only to lose to Hall of Fame basketball player, Rhodes …read more