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APRIL 30, 2002
by Ted Lang

May 1, 2002

Columnist Ted LangA few days after agents of both the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service raided the offices of Republican James Treffinger, the Essex County Executive withdrew his name from the United States Senatorial campaign challenging Democrat incumbent, Senator Robert Torricelli. Clearly, the rallying point for Republicans focused on the investigations of Torricelli’s activities over the past five years by the FBI, alleging corruption and bribery involving the Democrat.

Federal prosecutor Mary Jo White, a Bill Clinton appointee, dropped all charges against Torricelli and referred all evidence and accusations to the United States Senate for possible disciplinary action. As of this report, no action has been taken against Torricelli.

Treffinger announced his withdrawal from the senatorial race on April 22nd. The Trenton Times quoted Treffinger’s written statement in an article entitled "Treffinger quits race for Senate," by reporter Mark Perkiss: "Until this afternoon, I intended to remain in this race, but now I believe that doing so would hamper the Republican Party, negatively affect the eventual Senate nominee…and work as a disservice to the many party leaders, supporters and friends who have stood by me."

The article continues: "Treffinger’s departure reduces the once-crowded GOP field to three candidates – millionaire Douglas Forrester, a former West Windsor mayor, and state Senators Diane Alden, R-Edgewater Park, and John Matheussen, R-Mantua."

The Times article quoted several Republican Party insiders who felt that Treffinger’s supporters would gravitate toward supporting Forrester, who is funding his own campaign and who they feel in all likelihood will become the front-runner against Torricelli.

The natural progression as Forrester to the GOP front-runner spot, however, was certainly not a given, especially as concerns state Senator Alden. According to an Associated Press release dated April 27, 2002, Alden initiated legal action against the Bergen County Republicans for placing Forrester on the choice ballot spot previously occupied by Treffinger. In the AP piece entitled "Forrester can keep top ballot spot," it was reported that "US Senate candidate Douglas R. Forrester can keep the choice spot on Bergen County’s Republican primary ballot, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday [April 26th]."

The AP article continues: "Allen argued that because state deadlines for ballot placement had already passed, no candidate should get the GOP organization ballot spot that Treffinger vacated four days after federal investigators raided Essex County offices as part of a corruption probe. Instead, her attorney Jo Ann Burk argued, Bergen County Republican leaders should abide by the ballot order determined in a random drawing earlier this month in the county clerk’s office. That drawing, done before Treffinger’s withdrawal, placed Allen in the second column, state Sen. John Matheussen of Gloucester County in the third, and Forrester, a West Windsor businessman, in the fourth column.

But Judge Marguerite T. Simon ruled that Bergen GOP leaders acted within their discretion to award the line to Forrester, who came in second at the April 4 county convention. Bergen County, which has more registered Republicans than any other county in the state, has been a key battleground for the three GOP candidates, one of whom will take on Democrat Sen. Robert G. Torricelli in November."

Allen’s attorney filed an appeal to Judge Simon’s ruling on Monday, April 29th. Sources have revealed that Allen’s appeal has been denied. ***

© 2002 Ted Lang

COPYRIGHT © 2002 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN. All writers retain rights to their work.