Among the traditional names mentioned for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s open House seat, there is no clear front runner among the Republicans. State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio wants to run — he’s wanted the seat since he self-funded a primary challenge to Rep. Dean Gallo in 1994. Gallo won, and then dropped out for health reasons — that’s how Frelinghuysen got to Congress.
Pennacchio made his way to the Morris County Board of Freeholders, the State Assembly, and finally the State Senate when Bob Martin retired in 2007. He ran for U.S. Senator in 2008 and lost the Republican primary. In Morris County, Pennacchio won 56% of the vote against former Rep. Dick Zimmer (36%) and Murray Sabrin (8%).
The 62-year-old dentist could self-fund the race again. His biggest problem is a manifesto he self-published in 1991, The Nationalist Agenda, a Blueprint for the 21st Century. The National Republican Congressional Committee will read it and tell New Jersey Republicans no way. The manifesto was the top reason Republicans were unwilling to settle on Pennacchio for the uphill shot at challenging Sen. Frank Lautenberg ten years ago, even as the struggled desperately to find a candidate.
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