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Dr. Mehmet Oz. (Photo: Oz for Senate).

Lots of candidates with New Jersey ties running for Congress, Senate in other states

Six House members went to high school in New Jersey

By David Wildstein, June 20 2022 12:01 am

The New Jersey Globe is building a list of candidates running in the 2022 midterm election who have ties to New Jersey.

Some, like Dr. Mehmet Oz and Matt Mowers, have lived most of their lives in New Jersey, only to find new home states to run for office.  Others, like U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, are Garden State natives who haven’t lived in the state in years.

At least six incumbent House members from other states spent part of their youth in New Jersey.  Two other high-profile House candidates have fathers from New Jersey.  And the Governor of Montana is a New Jerseyan.

Oz, a Cliffside Park resident, won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania last month.  He moved to Pennsylvania to run, but remains a registered voter in Bergen County, where he has lived most of his life.   He faces Democrat John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, for an open Republican Senate seat.

Mowers, who is in a competitive primary for  a rematch with Rep. Chris Pappas in New Hampshire’s 1st district, grew up in East Brunswick and worked for Gov. Chris Christie  He moved to Granite State to be executive director of the state GOP and then state director of Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign there.  After Christie lost — he won just 7% of the vote — Mowers moved home to New Jersey, and voted in a second primary that year.  He returned to New Hampshire two years ago to take on Pappas. 

Kelly, an astronaut from West Orange, moved to Arizona after marrying Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  He flipped a U.S. Senate seat in a 2020 special election and is seeking a full six-year term this year.

Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx Democrat who ousted a longtime incumbent in a primary two years ago, played football for Sayreville War Memorial High School.  Seven-term Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes grew up in Pennington and graduated from Hopewell Valley Central High School.  Darren Soto, who won a Florida congressional seat in 2018, is from Ringwood and attended Lakeland Regional High School.

Scott Peters, a California Democrat who has been in Congress for ten years, is a graduate of Westfield High School.  North Carolina Democrat Alma Adams, a congresswoman since 2014, graduated from West Side High School in Newark.   Abigail Spanberger, a two-term Democrat from Virginia, spent part of her childhood in Red Bank.

One of the four candidates who made it to a special election for an Alaska House seat, Dr. Al Gross, has New Jersey ties.

Dr. Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon and commercial fisherman who ran for U.S. Senate two years ago, comes from an Essex County family.

His father, Avrum Gross, grew up in South Orange and West Orange before moving to Alaska in the 1960s.

After law school, Avrum Gross took a job working for the Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency – their version of the Office of Legislative Services – where he forged a friendship with a young state legislator and bush pilot named Jay Hammond.

After Hammond was elected governor in 1974 – he defeated a former Democratic governor by just 287 votes statewide – he picked Av Gross, a Democrat, as attorney general of Alaska.

Al Gross’ grandfather, Joel, was a lawyer in Newark and chaired the Essex County United Jewish Appeal.   In 1948, when former Vice President Henry Wallace mounted an independent campaign for the presidency, Joel Gross served as vice chairman of the newly-formed Independent Progressive Party.  He previously served as an executive board member of the New Jersey Independent Citizens League.

Gross faces former Gov. Sarah Palin and two others.

In Florida, State Sen. Annette Taddeo is a Jersey Girl by blood.  Her father, Anthony, was born and raised in Orange and served in World War II and Korea.  He later moved to Columbia, where his daughter was born.  Taddeo’s aunt was the school secretary in Mark Kelly’s West Orange school.  

Taddeo,  is challenging freshman Republican María Elvira Salazar, who ousted Donna Shalala for the Miami-based seat in 2020.

The former deputy mayor of Newark is a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for Rhode Island State Treasurer.

Stefan Pryor served as deputy mayor under Cory Booker from 2006 to 2011.  He later spent four years as Connecticut Commissioner of Education before becoming Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce in 2015.

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