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Jeff Bell dies at 74

By David Wildstein, Feb 11 2018 7:17 pm

Conservative icon Jeff Bell, a former Ronald Reagan speechwriter who toppled a four-term United States Senator in a Republican primary, died last night.  He was 74.

In 1978, Bell mounted a primary challenge against Clifford Case, a liberal Republican who had spent 24 years in the Senate.  The 35-year-old Bell beat Case by 3,473 votes (50.7%-49.3%).  He lost the general election to former New York Knicks player Bill Bradley by a 55%-43% margin.   He ran again for the Senate in 1982, but lost the Republican primary to Millicent Fenwick by a 54%-46% margin.

Bell returned to New Jersey in 2014 to challenge freshman U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  He won the Republican nomination, but lost to Booker by a 56%-42% margin.

A graduate of Harvard University, Bell served in the U.S. Army and completed a tour of duty in Vietnam.  He began working for Reagan in 1975, during a fight for the Republican nomination against President Gerald Ford.  He was also a top advisor to Jack Kemp, who campaigned for Bell in the 1978 primary.

Bell is survived by his wife Rosalie, and four children.

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