At 76-years-old, and thirty years since he last won a general election, Frank X. Herbert is seeking a political comeback in a race for the State Senate, where he served from 1978 to 1982. The former Bergen County Democrat, now a resident of Rockaway, filed today to run against Republican State Senator Anthony Bucco in the 25th district.
Herbert, a retired teacher, first won public office in 1969 when he was elected Waldwick Councilman. He won a race for Bergen County Freeholder in 1973 — the Watergate landslide year — defeating future Congressman Harold Hollenbeck. (Hollenbeck, elected to the State Senate in 1971, opted to run for Freeholder instead of re-election.)
Defeated for a second term as Freeholder in 1976, Herbert ran for an open State Senate seat in 1977. The 39th district had gone Democratic in 1973, elected Raymond Garramone to the State Senate and two Democrats to the State Assembly.
Instead of seeking a second term in the Senate, Garramone instead ran for Governor — unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Brendan Byrne in the Democratic primary. The Republicans ran John Markert, who had won one of the Assembly seats in 1975. But Byrne carried the 39th in the general and helped Herbert score a 53%-47% victory in the Senate race.
Four years later, the Republicans ran Gerald Cardinale, who had lost an Assembly race in 1977 but won in 1979. Cardinale easily defeated Herbert, 58%-42% — a margin of nearly 11,000 votes.
Herbert resurfaced thirteen years later. Retired from his teaching job at Secaucus High School (he was Chairman of the English Department while future Hudson County Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto chaired the Business Department), Herbert was living in Sussex County in 1994 when the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 11th district, Daniel Tauriello, filed petitions with 203 signatures — just three more than he needed. Controversial populist John Kuckek, an unabashed support of the Ku Klux Klan and Holocaust revisionist, successfully challenged Tauriello's petitions.
Herbert volunteered to run as a write-in candidate and defeated Kucke in the Democratic primary by a massive 70%-30% margin — 5,976 to 2,560. After Republican Congressman Dean Gallo withdrew from the race for health reasons, Herbert lost to then-Assemblyman Rodney Frelinghuysen by a 71%-28% margin.