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

Biography

Elected: 1996, 9th term.

Born: January 25, 1937, Paterson, NJ

Home: Paterson, NJ

Education: Fordham U., B.A. 1959, M.A. 1961

Professional Career: High Schl. teacher, 1960–74; Dir., Paterson Dept. of Public Works, 1974–77; Dir., Paterson Dept. of Policy, 1977–87.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Elsie Marie Botto) , 3 children ; 3 grandchildren

Bill Pascrell, elected in 1996, is a kind of a Democratic version of Gov. Chris Christie: He shares Christie’s feisty Jersey-guy demeanor and can be candid about expressing his displeasure with his party.

He grew up in Paterson, the grandson of Italian immigrants. His father worked for the railroad, and Pascrell was the first one in his family to graduate from college. He worked his way through Fordham University, served in the Army, and then taught high school for 14 years. From there Pascrell went into politics, first as director of Paterson’s public works department, and then as school board president. In 1987, he was elected to the New Jersey Assembly. In 1990, Pascrell was elected mayor of Paterson but continued to serve in the Assembly—a common practice in New Jersey until the legislature voted in 2007 to stop the practice.

In 1996, Pascrell challenged first-term U.S. Rep. Bill Martini, a Republican, whom Pascrell portrayed as the tool of an “extremist” House leadership; his ads showed Martini’s face on a puppet being manipulated by Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Despite Martini’s support from the Sierra Club and labor unions, Pascrell won 51%-48%.

In the House, Pascrell has compiled a liberal record on economics and a more moderate one on cultural and foreign issues. He has voted for some restrictions on abortion, including a parental notification requirement. In 2002, he voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, and, on the Homeland Security Committee, he was a voice for strengthening homeland defense, calling for improved communications among first responders. “How is it we can talk to people on the moon, but we can’t talk one block away?” Pascrell asked. In February 2011, he also succeeded in restoring $510 million in fire department grants that Republicans had wanted to chop. Pascrell is also a big supporter of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office. After the program was targeted for budget cuts, Pascrell and Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., in 2011 won House passage of a measure to restore $199 million to the office.

At home, Pascrell endeared himself to Bruce Springsteen fans when he joined them in their gripes against Ticketmaster after the ticket service advertised drastically marked-up seats through a subsidiary’s website just minutes after several of the Jersey rocker’s shows had sold out. When Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov sought to buy the New Jersey Nets basketball team in 2010, Pascrell called for an investigation into Prokhorov’s investment bank’s ties with Zimbabwe for possible violations of U.S. sanctions. The National Basketball Association called his claims misinformed and approved the sale, a move Pascrell called “extremely short-sighted.”

As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Pascrell has worked with labor and consumer groups to promote “fair trade,” and to expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance program for workers who have lost their jobs. Two other pet projects of his were successful: A bill to designate Paterson’s Great Falls as a 120-acre national park, which was enacted in 2009. And the following year, the House passed his bill calling for development of a new set of concussion-management guidelines for student athletes.

As his party’s political fortunes declined in 2010, Pascrell was among the Democrats who was open in venting his frustrations. When White House spokesman Robert Gibbs speculated that the Democrats’ House majority was in doubt in the 2010 election, Pascrell told The Washington Post,“What the hell do they think we’ve been doing the last 12 months? We’re the ones who have been taking the tough votes.” During the debt ceiling standoff in the summer of 2011, Pascrell said his own party should shoulder some of the blame. He criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for refusing to accept any deal with cuts to entitlement programs.

Pascrell has harbored ambitions for statewide office and expressed interest in running for governor in 2001. But his support of former Gov. Jim Florio in the 2000 Senate Democratic primary against Jon Corzine left him on the losing side of the state’s Democratic establishment. In 2005, he supported Corzine for governor in the hopes of succeeding him in the Senate, but the appointment went to U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez.

Since his first election to the House, Pascrell had received at least 62% of the vote against weak challengers. But the 2011 round of redistricting put his comfortable House seat in jeopardy. The new 9th District included his home base of Paterson, but it contained a large share of Democratic colleague Steve Rothman’s old Bergen County-based district. Although the new district didn’t include Rothman’s home, Rothman moved to Englewood to run in the 9th, setting up a primary showdown against Pascrell.

Throughout the campaign, Pascrell hammered Rothman for running against him rather than taking on Republican Scott Garrett in the newly drawn 5th District. Rothman portrayed himself as the “Democrat’s Democrat,” although their voting records were quite similar. He also attacked Pascrell’s record on abortion rights, while Pascrell touted his work on President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

The race became a game of turnout, with Pascrell’s Passaic County machine up against the Rothman Bergen County team. Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Pascrell. Although Obama officially remained neutral, his top political adviser David Axelrod campaigned for Rothman. In the end, the race was not even close. Pascrell won 61%-39%.

In the general election, he had an even easier time against Republican Shmuley Boteach, a celebrity rabbi who wrote a best-selling book for couples entitled Kosher Sex. Although billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent $1 million on super PAC ads promoting Boteach, Pascrell won 74%-25%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2370
Washington, DC 20515-3009

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2370
Washington, DC 20515-3009

DISTRICT OFFICE

(973) 523-5152

(973) 523-0637

Robert A. Roe Federal Building Suite 500
Paterson, NJ 07505-1953

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

Robert A. Roe Federal Building Suite 500
Paterson, NJ 07505

DISTRICT OFFICE

(973) 472-4510

(973) 472-0852

330 Passaic Street
Passaic, NJ 07055

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

330 Passaic Street
Passaic, NJ 07055

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

2-10 North Van Brunt Street
Englewood, NJ 07631

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

2-10 North Van Brunt Street
Englewood, NJ 07631

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

367 Valley Brook Avenue
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

DISTRICT OFFICE

(201) 935-2248

367 Valley Brook Avenue
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-5751

(202) 225-5782

441 Ninth Avenue
Paterson, NJ 07514

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

441 Ninth Avenue
Paterson, NJ 07514

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Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Agriculture

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Animal Rights

Aileen Monahan
Scheduler; Intern Coordinator

Appropriations

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Benjamin Rich
Chief of Staff

ben.rich@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5751

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Arts

Aileen Monahan
Scheduler; Intern Coordinator

Budget

Elaina Houser
Economic Policy Advisor

Education

Elaina Houser
Economic Policy Advisor

Family

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Health

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Housing

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Human Rights

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Immigration

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Judiciary

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Medicare

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Public Works

Benjamin Rich
Chief of Staff

ben.rich@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5751

Seniors

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Social Security

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Technology

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Telecommunications

Dylan Sodaro
Legislative Assistant; Legislative Correspondent

Transportation

Benjamin Rich
Chief of Staff

ben.rich@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5751

Urban Affairs

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Veterans

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Women

Alyssa Penna
Legislative Director

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 78,920
Percent: 68.54%
Dierdre Paul
Votes: 34,560
Percent: 30.02%
2012 GENERAL
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 162,822
Percent: 73.97%
Shmuley Boteach
Votes: 55,091
Percent: 25.03%
2012 PRIMARY
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 31,435
Percent: 61.18%
Steven Rothman
Votes: 19,947
Percent: 38.82%
2010 GENERAL
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 88,478
Percent: 62.66%
Roland Straten
Votes: 51,023
Percent: 36.13%
2010 PRIMARY
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 13,213
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 159,279
Percent: 71.11%
Roland Straten
Votes: 63,107
Percent: 28.17%
2008 PRIMARY
Bill Pascrell
Votes: 19,948
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (63%), 2008 (71%), 2006 (71%), 2004 (69%), 2002 (67%), 2000 (67%), 1998 (62%), 1996 (51%)

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