Former Wall Street investment banker Frank Pallotta is considering run for Congress against Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) in New Jersey’s 5th district next year.
“I am exploring the opportunity,” Pallotta told the New Jersey Globe. “I am in the testing the waters stage.”
Pallotta, a veteran of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, says he is prepared to make a significant personal investment in a campaign if he runs.
“I would self-fund a substantial portion of the early part of the campaign,” said Pallotta, who declined to reveal how much he is willing to spend in a race against Gottheimer, a prolific fundraiser known as the Human Fundraising Machine.
Pallotta says he has met with party leaders and local elected officials in recent weeks to discuss a possible run for Congress.
“I think I have the wherewithal to go down the road on this,” he said. “I look at what’s going on over the least few years with the political discourse in this country. We’re trending the wrong way.”
While stopping short of attacking Gottheimer, Pallotta took issue with the two-term incumbents claims of being a different kind of Democrat representing a Republican-leaning congressional district.
“In spite of what he says about voting with Republicans, it’s typically not on the matters that are important,” Pallotta said.
He said his 25-year career on Wall Street has prepared him for what he hinted would be a campaign based on fiscal issues.
Now the owner of Steel Curtain Capital, a privately-held mortgage advisory and consumer marketing firm, Pallotta left Goldman Sachs in 1995 – he worked with Jon Corzine, Bob Rubin Hank Paulsen and Steve Mnuchin, but not with Gov. Phil Murphy – and retired from Morgan Stanley in 2008.
“Sound economic policy is steeped in more than 100 years of data,” said Pallotta. “The decisions (Governor) Murphy is making are not likely to have been made by Goldman Sachs.”
Pallotta ran briefly for mayor of Mahwah last year when voters considered a recall of two-term incumbent William Laforet. He and several other candidates withdrew from the race, clearing the field for councilman John Roth. Voters narrowly recalled Laforet and elected Roth.
Pallotta comes with some political lineage: his cousin is Robert Pallotta, a former Palisades Park mayor and Bergen County freeholder.
Gottheimer has $4.1 million cash-on-hand as he prepares to seek re-election in a district almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Donald Trump carried the 5th in the 2016 presidential election.
A former Clinton White House speechwriter and Microsoft executive, Gottheimer ousted seven-term Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage) in 2016 by a 51%-47% margin. He was re-elected last year by 41,291 votes (56%-42%) against former Cresskill councilman John McCann.
Gottheimer is keeping a careful watch over potential challengers.
Some Republicans had mentioned Tim Luing, one of the owners of Berkeley College, as a possible candidate.
Within a few days, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a statement calling Luing a scam artist for deceptive business practices at the for-profit college.
McCann signaled a possible desire for a rematch last week by launching an updated website with a new campaign logo.