A memorial service for former Congressman Robert Franks on Saturday morning is likely to draw a large group of dignitaries at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Franks was a popular fixture in state politics for four decades and he had a huge number of friends and admirers from both parties. While many will attend to pay tribute to Franks, the political theater of the service is undeniable. This will be Jon Corzine’s first public appearance since leaving office in January, and it will be the first public meeting with the man who ousted him, Christopher Christie.
Also delivering eulogies will be: the godfather of Franks’ eldest daughter, former House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, who is ahead in independent polls as the Republican candidate for Governor of Ohio; former Gov. Thomas Kean, who has known Franks since 1967, when Kean first ran for Assemblyman and Franks was a teenage volunteer; and former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, whose election in 1993 was in part set up by Franks’ leadership of the state GOP organization. Two other speakers, both with deep political resumes, are also longtime friends: former state Transportation Commissioner Roger Bodman (the godfather of Franks’ youngest daughter) first met Franks in 1976 and worked with him on campaigns for Raymond Bateman, James Courter and Kean; and former state Budget Director Alfred Fasola, who met Franks when they attended DePauw University together in 1969.