NJ GOP Nominates Forrester, Unites Against Torricelli

By Jeff McKay | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Douglas Forrester, a wealthy businessman and political neophyte, defeated two state senators on Tuesday to win the state's Republican U.S. Senate primary. That means Forrester will run against incumbent Democrat Robert Torricelli this fall, and he's doing so with a united New Jersey GOP standing squarely behind him.

Forrester was considered the most "mainstream" Republican in the primary field. His opponents included Diane Allen, a popular South Jersey liberal Republican who garnered 37 percent of the vote; and John Matheussen, who took 19 percent of the conservative vote, thanks to support from New Jersey's largest pro-life group.

But in the end, Forrester won with a campaign based on one theme - the shortcomings of Torricelli.

"It is a race that must be won for the integrity of the State of New Jersey," said Forrester to an enthusiastic crowd at his campaign headquarters. "It is a race to defeat Bob Torricelli."

Stressing leadership and honesty, Forrester proclaimed, "New Jersey needs a Senator who will honor you and not embarrass you."

"We knew early on that Doug Forrester had a message," said Forrester Campaign Manager Bill Pascoe. "It's time for Bob Torricelli to go. He'd rather pay attention to his own political advancement, and not about the needs of the people of New Jersey."

Pascoe, who formerly managed the gubernatorial campaign of Bret Schundler, said, "New Jersey has had enough of a Senator who spent the last six years facing legal challenges and not facing the daily challenges of New Jersey citizens.

Even Forrester's rivals are rallying behind the cause.

In her concession speech, Allen told her supporters, "If we don't pull together and unite, Bob Torricelli will stay our Senator and that is a terrible thought."

Forrester, who spent $3 million of his own money on his primary campaign, said he will spend the next few months discussing issues that are paramount to New Jersey voters.

Some of those issues reflect national concerns: lowering the cost of prescription drugs; stricter immigration laws and stronger border protection; lowering taxes; and a stronger national defense.

Forrester is well versed on the prescription drug issue. His company, BeneCard Services, manages prescription drug benefits for employers.

Although Torricelli's credibility and ethics are an easy target for the New Jersey GOP, Torricelli's campaign warchest is a concern. A recent fundraiser headlined by Bill Clinton and attended by Donald Trump and others added $3 million to Torricelli's funds.

On Tuesday, Torricelli told a crowd, "In the weeks ahead I get to tell the story of achievement and hard work over the last several years." Alluding to the GOP, he added, "Whatever they may say, whatever they may do, you keep your eyes on the future."

"Torricelli has negatives going against him," said David Rebovich, Rider University Professor of Political Science. "A united GOP can make a difference in the fall."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has targeted Torricelli's Senate seat as vulnerable. New Jersey Republicans have lost 10 consecutive Senate races since their last victory in 1972.