|Doug Forrester (Republican)|
Douglas Forrester is trying to unseat a 20-year congressional veteran to win New Jersey's first Republican-held Senate seat since 1972. His opponent is Frank Lautenberg, a popular former New Jersey senator who replaced embattled Sen. Robert Torricelli on the ballot after Torricelli dropped out of the race Sept. 30.
The New Jersey GOP had struggled to find a strong Senate candidate to face Torrecelli this year. Republican leaders like former governors Christine Todd Whitman and Tom Kean, along with former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, all declined to throw their hats in the ring. Former Whitewater special counsel Robert Ray backed after difficulties getting the 1,000 signatures required to win a spot on the ballot.
Attention then turned to Essex County Executive James Treffinger, but his campaign ended after the federal government opened an investigation to determine whether Treffinger received kickback payments in exchange for awarding county contracts. FBI agents raided his offices in April.
By the time Republicans headed to the polls to vote in the primary, barely half of likely voters had heard of any of the party's candidates. But Forrester emerged as the nominee with 44 percent of the vote, carrying 14 of the state's 21 counties. He defeated two state senators: Diane Allen, a former television anchor in Philadelphia, and John Matheussen, a lawyer. Although Forrester spent some $5 million of his own money to secure success, Allen trailed him closely until the day of the primary.
A California native, Forrester graduated from Harvard University in 1975 and later received a Master's of Divinity degree from the Princeton Seminary. His opponent has seized on the point that Forrester has only held one elective office -- a two-year stint as mayor of West Windsor, New Jersey -- but Forrester has spent much of his life in New Jersey as a state employee and a businessman.
He served as assistant state treasurer and the head of the state's pension and healthcare systems under Gov. Kean. For the past twelve years, he has worked at BeneCard Services, a pharmaceutical benefits management firm.
As president and part owner of BeneCard, Forrester helped create one of the most successful small businesses in the state, amassing a personal fortune estimated at between $50 million and $100 million.
Torricelli had raised the issue of whether BeneCard, a company that manages prescription drug benefits for employers and many municipalities, has helped drive up the cost of prescription drugs. Since the elderly are a key constituency, both candidates spent a lot of time debating issue before Torricelli dropped out of the race.
Forrester has lived in West Windsor, with his wife and three children, for 26 years. During that time he's been active in the Mercer County Republican Committee.
On the issues, Forrester is a pro-choice moderate who supports current gun restrictions, the Justice Department's interpretation of civil-rights protections during the war on terrorism, and stronger immigration restrictions. Recently, Forrester signed a pledge to protect Social Security money from privatization.
--By Samara Aberman, Online NewsHour