Rep. Frank Pallone (D)
New Jersey 6th District
For generations, great transportation arteries have brought people out of the huge central cities of New York and Philadelphia and into the flatlands and hills of New Jersey—to vacation, to raise families, to work toward affluence, and to build communities. The railroads of the late 19th century created the towns of the Jersey shore. After 1874, when the first train from New York City reached Long Branch, the shore became the summer home of seven presidents from Grant to Wilson (Garfield, convalescing after he was shot, died there in 1881) and of New York racehorse owners and socialites. But over time, the ambiance became honky-tonk, and the fishing pier and much of the boardwalk went up in flames in 1987. Only recently have developers sought to revive it. The great freight rail lines in the New York-Philadelphia corridor sparked electrical and chemical industries here. They built on the inventions of Thomas Edison, many of them produced in his Menlo Park laboratory just off the rail lines, where a 131-foot tower stands as a memorial to the inventor. The same corridor was the site of America’s first cloverleaf intersection, at the junction of U.S. 1 and U.S. 9, and of the intersection of two of America’s great post-World War II highways, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. The turnpike, now 12 lanes wide in stretches, roars past oil tank farms and petrochemical plants, major rail lines, Newark International Airport, and the oily waters of Raritan Bay. The parkway links leafy affluent suburbs with the Jersey shore.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 6th Congressional District inelegantly ties together these great transportation nodes, and the upward mobility and economic progress that have taken place around them. The district is shaped something like an overturned capital F, with a long string of towns running from Piscataway to Sandy Hook, and two appendages running south: one along the Middlesex-Monmouth county line, the other along the Atlantic Ocean. Middlesex and Monmouth counties account for 90% of the district’s population. It includes the central core of Middlesex County: New Brunswick, Highland Park, Metuchen, Sayreville, and parts of Edison Township and surrounding communities—a heavy industry area that, since the time of Edison, has also housed some of America’s great research and development facilities, plus Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. In recent years, Edison Township has seen an influx of immigrants from India, many of them engineers and doctors.
The 6th also includes Monmouth County territory overlooking Lower New York Bay, with spacious estates on highlands above little port towns from Sandy Hook, home to the nation’s oldest operating lighthouse (1764), south to the mile-long boardwalk of Belmar. Between them are Asbury Park, founded as a Christian resort, immortalized by a Bruce Springsteen album, and now plagued by a high poverty rate; and Ocean Grove, founded in 1869 as a square-mile Methodist resort, still dry for teetotalers who throng to its 10,000-seat Great Hall, built in 1894. Ocean Grove also has the nation’s greatest concentration of Victorian homes. The shore has remained a summer vacation area that attracts millions, but it also hosts year-round communities, with their own upward-striving families. These are comfortable Democratic working-class bastions, wedged between heavily minority urban districts and upscale suburbia. In 2008, Barack Obama won this district 60%-38%.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D)
Elected: 1988, 11th full term.
Born: Oct. 30, 1951, Long Branch .
Home: Long Branch.
Education: Middlebury Col., B.A. 1973, Fletcher Schl. of Law & Diplomacy, M.A. 1974, Rutgers U., J.D. 1978.
Family: Married (Sarah); 3 children.
Elected office: Long Branch City Cncl., 1982–88; NJ Senate, 1983–88.
Professional Career: Asst. prof., Rutgers U., 1979–80; Practicing atty., 1981–83; Instructor, Monmouth Col., 1984–86.
The congressman from the 6th District is Frank Pallone, a Democrat elected in 1988. Pallone is the son of a disabled Long Branch policeman. He has been an environmentalist since 1969, when as a Middlebury College freshman in Vermont he worked for that state’s first-in-the-nation bottle deposit law. After getting a master’s degree in international relations from Tufts University and a law degree from Rutgers, he was elected to the Long Branch City Council in 1982, at age 31, and to the New Jersey Senate a year later. After the death of U.S. Rep. Jim Howard, a Democrat who chaired the Public Works and Transportation Committee, Pallone ran for the House. The district leaned Republican, but residents were angry about untreated sludge, plastic containers, and medical waste washing up on the beach. Pallone’s bumper sticker, which didn’t mention party affiliation, said, “Stop Ocean Dumping.” That, combined with his conservative stands on taxes and crime, helped him to win 52% in both the special and general elections.
|Frank Pallone (D)||164,077||(67%)||($1,542,502)|
|Robert McLeod (R)||77,469||(32%)||($12,364)|
|Frank Pallone (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (69%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (66%), 2000 (68%), 1998 (57%), 1996 (61%), 1994 (60%), 1992 (52%), 1990 (49%), 1988 (52%), 1988 (52%)
Pallone, moderate to liberal, started as a political maverick but became more loyal to the party when Democrats were the minority. His environmental focus turned to the ever-lively border war with New York, and he opposed offshore dumping near Sandy Hook of highly contaminated material dredged from New York Harbor. In 2006, he won passage of a bill to reduce and prevent debris in the marine environment. In 2008, he was the lead sponsor of a bipartisan bill to rebuild American fisheries, in part by requiring a review of factors that lead to over-fishing.
As chairman of the influential Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, he has criticized shortfalls in children’s health funding. In 2009, he helped steer to passage the Democrats’ expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which he called “a down payment to ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable health care.” When the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill came up for debate, he backed an increase in the federal matching rate for Medicaid as a step to reduce the program’s financial burden on states. Pallone was also critical of President Bush’s plan to allow insured workers to switch to lower-cost health coverage and of the Republicans’ Medicare prescription drug program. With fellow Energy and Commerce members John Dingell and Bart Stupak, both Michigan Democrats, he promised action in 2009 on their bill to strengthen the authority of the Food and Drug Administration.
In a bow to the many people of Armenian descent in the district, Pallone helped push congressional approval of normalizing trade relations for Armenia. He sponsored the resolution that labeled the 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. But he agreed in October 2007 to defer a vote under pressure from the Turkish government and the Bush administration.
Since 1994, Pallone has been re-elected with at least 60% of the vote, with one exception. In 1998, he faced a tough challenge from 28-year-old Republican Mike Ferguson, an ally of former GOP Gov. Thomas Kean. An insurance group unhappy with Pallone’s support for President Bill Clinton’s plan to regulate health maintenance organizations spent nearly $2 million on Ferguson’s campaign. But Pallone won 57%-40%.
His ambitions for statewide office have been frustrated. When Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg announced his retirement in 1999, Pallone formed an exploratory committee but did not run. He again thought about running when Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli quit the 2002 Senate race. When Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine ran for governor in 2005, Pallone endorsed him and said that he would like to fill Corzine’s Senate seat. But after winning the gubernatorial race, Corzine appointed U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez to his Senate seat.