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When Bill Bradley ran for president in 2000, some of the New Jersey Democratic establishment supported Al Gore — most remained neutral — but among rank-and-file home state Democratic primary voters, Bradley had the lead.
In a September 1999 Quinnipiac University Poll, Bradley led Gore by 39 points, 63%-24%.
Bradley, who spent eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, had approval ratings of 61%-11% four years after leaving office.
After Gore won Iowa (63%-37%), New Hampshire (50%-46%) and Delaware (57%-40%), New Jerseyans began to turn on Bradley.
A February 24, 2000 Quinnipiac poll that came three weeks after New Hampshire and two weeks before Super Tuesday showed Bradley’s lead among New Jersey Democrats had dropped to 11 points, 51%-40%. His favorables had dropped to 54%-13%.
Bradley lost all fifteen states on Super Tuesday and dropped out of the race two days later.
Gore had the endorsements of U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, Reps. Bob Menendez (D-Union City) and Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), and State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), a former Democratic State Chairman.
Bradley backers included State Sen. Richard Codey (D-West Orange), Essex County Democratic Chairman Thomas Giblin, and former Governors Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio.
Other Democratic powerbrokers, like U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli and Newark Mayor Sharpe James, stayed out of the race.