Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2002, 6th term.

Born: July 9, 1959, Englewood

Home: Wantage

Education: Montclair St. U., B.A. 1981, Rutgers U., J.D. 1984

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1984-2002.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Protestant

Family: married (Mary Ellen) , 2 children

Republican Scott Garrett, elected in 2002, is the most conservative member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation. His uncompromising views on reining in federal spending and the regulation of the banking system set him apart from his Garden State colleagues, but make him a player on the Budget and Financial Services committees.

Garrett grew up on a farm in Wantage, where his parents grew tomatoes and Christmas trees. The family’s main income came from his father’s job as a salesman for Uniroyal. A conservative from the start, Garrett questioned his high school administration’s spending practices and kept a picture of David Stockman, the father of Reaganomics, at his desk. He graduated from Montclair State College and Rutgers law school, and became a trial lawyer in Sussex County. He is a born-again Christian who meets most Saturday mornings for three hours with a small group that calls itself Joshua Men.

In 1989, Garrett was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where he quickly became one of the most conservative members. In 1998 and 2000, he challenged veteran U.S. Rep. Marge Roukema, a moderate Republican, in the primary. He attacked Roukema for supporting abortion rights and gun control laws. She emphasized her conservative votes on economic issues and was backed by the conservative House Republican leadership. Each time, Garrett carried the western part of the district, but Roukema ran strongly in her Bergen County base, winning by 53%-47% in 1998 and 52%-48% in 2000.

When Roukema announced that she would not seek another term in 2002, Garrett ran again. His challenge in the primary was to sell his views in Bergen County, where Sussex County is viewed as a distant province somewhere near Idaho. Two well-known Republicans from Bergen entered the race: state Sen. Gerald Cardinale and Assemblyman David Russo. They argued that nominating Garrett would put the seat at risk. But Garrett won the primary with 41% to 26% for Russo and 25% for Cardinale. Garrett won 81% of the vote in Sussex and 68% in Warren. But he won just 25% in Bergen County, raising Democratic hopes.

The Democratic nominee was Anne Sumers, a former Republican who switched parties in early 2002 and stressed her agreement with Roukema on most issues. With help from the national Democrats, Sumers attacked Garrett as an “extremist,” pointing to his support for limited federal aid to education.Garrett pounced on Sumers’ failure to vote in local school board elections and her musings on a liberal website, where she characterized American patriotism as “jingoistic.” Meanwhile, he soft-pedaled some of his more conservative views. Sumers outspent Garrett, $1.6 million to $1.3 million, including nearly $400,000 of her own money. But national Republicans spent heavily on issue ads on Garrett’s behalf. This turned out to be less of a contest than many people expected. Garrett won 59%-38%. In Bergen County, which cast 64% of the total vote, he led 55%-43%.

In the House, Garrett’s views are more conservative than the average New Jersey Republican’s. “I believe Scott, with all due respect, is to the right of Attila the Hun,” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell told The Record of Hackensack in September 2012. Garrett was the only New Jersey delegation member to oppose extending unemployment benefits, the only one to vote against making gasoline price-gouging a crime, and the only one to vote for lifting a ban on gas and oil drilling off the coast of New Jersey. After Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of New Jersey in October 2012, he was the only delegation member who initially refused to sign a letter asking for prompt action. He did, however, eventually sign a letter and support the legislation that passed the House.

He seems to have rebounded from his vote against the Republicans’ Medicare prescription drug bill in 2003, a move that angered GOP leaders and limited his influence in the House. He has long pushed for a resolution that would require all legislation to cite an enumerated power in the Constitution, and he wants to require congressional staff to receive annual training on the document. He told a tea party audience in October 2012: “Government regulations dictate what kind of health insurance we have, what kind of light bulb we buy, what kind of soda we drink, what kind of car we drive. This is a dark time for our republic.” Because of term limits, Garrett was due to rotate off the Budget Committee in 2011, but House Speaker John Boehner appointed him to serve another term.

Even though many of his constituents work on Wall Street, Garrett opposed the bailout of the financial markets in 2008, saying he was “wary of using taxpayer dollars to prop up failing businesses.” In 2009, he leapfrogged other members and became the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. He became chairman after the Republican takeover of the House in 2011, and made clear his intention to slow down and deny funding to agencies with responsibilities for implementing the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul law passed a year earlier. But the Democratic-controlled Senate was disinclined to curb Dodd-Frank, and House Republican leaders were reluctant to swallow Garrett’s idea to replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing mortgage giants, with a purely private mortgage market.

Garrett clashed repeatedly with full committee ranking Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts before Frank’s retirement in 2012. Frank complained that Garrett and his frequent ally, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, set the tone for Republicans’ unwillingness to negotiate on the financial services overhaul. As a result of their intransigence, the two “had no influence on the major parts of the bill,” Frank told The Record newspaper in July 2010. Garrett was expected to have an equally difficult time with California’s Maxine Waters, a liberal firebrand who succeeded Frank as the ranking Democrat.

Garrett has overcome some serious reelection challenges. In 2006, Paul Aronsohn, a former aide to Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey, called Garrett “too extreme, too disconnected to the people he represents,” raised nearly $600,000, and cut Garrett’s margin in Bergen to 51%-48%. But with more than 60% of the vote in Sussex and Warren counties, Garrett won 55%-44%. He sailed to victory in 2010.

Democrats hoped to unseat him in 2012, but had trouble attracting a high-profile challenger, and the job fell to Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen. The Record endorsed Gussen and rebuked Garrett for failing to acknowledge “that America is a much more complicated place in 2012 than it was in 1787.” But Gussen raised a pitiable $51,000 while Garrett collected almost $2.4 million, and the incumbent won 55%-43%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4465

(202) 225-9048

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2232
Washington, DC 20515-3005

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4465

(202) 225-9048

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2232
Washington, DC 20515-3005

DISTRICT OFFICE

(201) 444-5454

(201) 444-5488

266 Harristown Road Suite 104
Glen Rock, NJ 07452-3321

DISTRICT OFFICE

(201) 444-5454

(201) 444-5488

266 Harristown Road Suite 104
Glen Rock, NJ 07452-3321

DISTRICT OFFICE

(973) 300-2000

(973) 300-1051

83 Spring Street Suite 302A
Newton, NJ 07860-2080

DISTRICT OFFICE

(973) 300-2000

(973) 300-1051

83 Spring Street Suite 302A
Newton, NJ 07860-2080

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

100 Pond School Road
Sussex, NJ 07461-2623

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(973) 300-0470

100 Pond School Road
Sussex, NJ 07461-2623

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

John Maniscalco
Legislative Director

Banking

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Budget

John Maniscalco
Legislative Director

Commerce

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Consumers

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Energy

Nick Iacovella
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Nick Iacovella
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Foreign

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Nick Iacovella
Legislative Assistant

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Grants

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Health

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Housing

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Immigration

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Insurance

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Intelligence

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Military

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Science

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Tax

John Maniscalco
Legislative Director

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Technology

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Nick Iacovella
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Transportation

Nick Iacovella
Legislative Assistant

Urban Affairs

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Veterans

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Katherine Bloodgood
Senior Legislative Assistant

Brian O'Shea
Senior Policy Adviser

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Scott Garrett
Votes: 167,501
Percent: 55.03%
Adam Gussen
Votes: 130,100
Percent: 42.74%
2012 PRIMARY
Scott Garrett
Votes: 24,709
Percent: 87.23%
Michael Cino
Votes: 2,107
Percent: 7.44%
Bonnie Somer
Votes: 1,511
Percent: 5.33%
2010 GENERAL
Scott Garrett
Votes: 124,030
Percent: 64.94%
Tod Theise
Votes: 62,634
Percent: 32.79%
2010 PRIMARY
Scott Garrett
Votes: 29,523
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Scott Garrett
Votes: 172,653
Percent: 55.87%
Dennis Shulman
Votes: 131,033
Percent: 42.4%
2008 PRIMARY
Scott Garrett
Votes: 19,914
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (65%), 2008 (56%), 2006 (55%), 2004 (58%), 2002 (59%)

To order a print copy of the 2016 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, click here. For questions about print orders, call Columbia Books at 1-888-265-0600 ext 0266 or email customer service.

For questions about the digital Almanac, please contact your Dedicated Advisor or Membership@NationalJournal.com.

×