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Former Rep. Michael Pappas will be the new Bridgewater Township Administrator, Mayor-elect Matthew Moench announced today.
Pappas served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 1999. He lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Rush Holt (D-Hopewell).
The High Bridge Borough Administrator since 2016, Pappas served as mayor of Franklin Township and as a Somerset County Freeholder before winning an open congressional seat in 1996. He later served in the administration of President George W. Bush as Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2001 to 2009.
As a candidate for re-election to a second term in the House in 1998, Pappas took to the House floor and sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Kenneth Starr” in support of a special prosecutor investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton. The stunt backfired on Pappas, who lost 50%-47% to a virtually unknown Holt.
“Our Township Administrator must have a wealth of experience managing government organizations, be a proven problem-solver, and be able to provide our residents with a responsive, user-friendly government,” said Moench. “In Mike Pappas, we have checked every one of those boxes and have found an individual who will be ready to start delivering for Bridgewater residents on his very first day.”
Moench, the council president, defeated incumbent Dan Hayes in the Republican primary.
Pappas ran for New Jersey’s 12th district House seat in 1996 when three-term Rep. Dick Zimmer (R-Delaware) left to run for the U.S. Senate.
He defeated Senate Majority Leader John Bennett (R-Little Silver) by 1,175 votes, 38%-34%. Assemblyman Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) finished third with 26%.
Bennett, who later served as Co-Senate President and spend 80 hours as the governor of New Jersey in 2002, is currently the Township Administrator for Woodbridge. Lance went to Congress in 2008 and served until losing his seat to Democrat Tom Malinowski (R-Rocky Hill) in 2018.
Pappas sought a comeback in 2000, but lost the GOP primary to Zimmer by a 62%-38% margin. Zimmer came within 651 votes of unseating Holt.