What if Zimmer had won?

If Dick Zimmer had won his race for U.S. Senate in 1996 – our premise is purely hypothetical because he

If Dick Zimmer had won his race for U.S. Senate in 1996 – our premise is purely hypothetical because he did not – who would be running this year?

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="nofollow noreferer" href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

The first question is this: would Zimmer have won re-election in 2002? Rob Andrews, Bob Menendez and Frank Pallone would have probably declined to challenge him – it’s fair to assume that if they were unwilling to give up their safe House seats to run against Doug Forrester, they would have been less likely to risk a race against an incumbent in post 9/11 New Jersey, when George W. Bush was actually off-the-charts popular in New Jersey.

Here is one scenario how this might have played out: Bob Torricelli, narrowly losing the ‘96 U.S. Senate race to Zimmer, ran for Governor in 1997 and ousted incumbent Christie Whitman. Frank Lautenberg, enjoying a more cordial relationship with Zimmer than he did with Torricelli, ran for re-election in 2000 and won, defeating State Sen. Bill Gormley. Gov. Torricelli struggled to win the approval of New Jersey voters and lost his ’01 re-election bid to Senate President Donald DiFrancesco. Zimmer held his seat in a closer-than-expected contest against the Democratic nominee, James E. McGreevey, who was the Mayor of Woodbridge and the Senate Democratic leader – after friends Ray Lesniak and John Lynch helped him beat Richard Codey in a leadership contest. Andrews ousted Gov. DiFrancesco in 2005. Lautenberg was re-elected in 2006, defeating former U.S. Attorney Rosemary Alito, got the job after Zimmer recommended her appointment to Bush in 2001.

Menendez passed on the U.S. Senate race in 2008 because he didn’t want to give up his post as House Majority Leader. Pallone and Steve Rothman are vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Zimmer. And in New York City, some millionaire who used to live in Summit is talking about running for Mayor after Michael Bloomberg leaves office next year.

This is, of course, subjective – and not real. Our readers should feel free to offer their own scenarios.

What if Zimmer had won?