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Van Dyke J. Pollitt, an insider’s insider who spend decades as a political operative– first as a Republican officeholder in Union County and then as a member of John Lynch’s political circle running the Middlesex County Democratic machine – died on November 10. He was 87.
Pollitt, known as Dyke, started out in local politics in 1966, when he was appointed to a seat on the Fanwood Borough Council. He was elected in 1966, 1969 and 1972. He was council president for four years.
In 1971, Pollitt became the Republican candidate for State Senate in a special November election for a ten-week term in an at-large Union County race.
The incumbent, State Sen. Nicholas LaCorte (R-Elizabeth), resigned from the Senate to become a state tax court judge in December 1970. A former mayor of Elizabeth, LaCorte is the father of Democrat James LaCorte, the Union County Surrogate.
Pollitt faced Jerry Fitzgerald English, a 36-year-old Summit attorney, in a race to complete LaCorte’s term.
English defeated Pollitt by 8,516 votes, 50.8%-44.9%, in a race that included independent Elmer Sullivan.
The race was sort of an anomaly for Union County that year: Republicans won three State Senate seats and four of six Assembly seats, and their candidate for an at-large unexpired term in the Assembly won easily.
After serving ten weeks in the Senate, English ran for Congress in 1972 for the open seat of retiring eight-term Rep. Florence Dwyer (R-Elizabeth). Matthew Rinaldo (R-Union), who had just been re-elected to his second term in the State Senate, defeated her 63%-36%.
In 1970s, Pollitt opened a public relations and political consulting firm, Creative Ink, with a friend and political ally, former Fanwood Republican Municipal Chair Joan Geer.
According to Pollitt’s family, he ran more than 324 political campaigns during a 50-year career as a political operative and won all but four of them.
He resigned from the Fanwood Council in December 1974 in order to obviate any potential conflicts with his new firm.
Pollitt’s ten-year tenure as a councilman transcended three mayors and seventeen councilmembers.
He served as a spokesman for State Sen. Raymond Bateman’s campaign for governor in 1977.
Pollitt’s anchor client was John Lynch, who was elected mayor of New Brunswick in 1978 and State Senator in 1981. He spent years as New Brunswick’s official spokesman.
Born on July 2, 1932 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Pollitt was a graduate of the University of Delaware. He served in the 32nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.
In addition to his role as a political consultant and public relations executive, Pollitt spent 31 years as a sales and marketing executive for Wallace and Tiernan, a water distribution company.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Macena, two children and four grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held to celebrate Pollitt’s life on November 30 at 11 AM at the Fanwood Presbyterian Church.