New GOP candidate emerges in NJ-12

Scott Sipprelle, a wealthy investment firm founder from Princeton, is set to seek the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Princeton) in the 12th Congressional District this year.

Sipprelle, 47, plans to formally kick off his campaign next Wednesday at 6pm at the Princeton Regency Hyatt.  

“My decision to enter the realm of public service was made after considerable reflection about the serious challenges affecting our local and national economies and my strong conviction that the time has come for new ideas and a fresh approach to the problems facing our country,” wrote Sipprelle in an email invitation to the event.  

The fledgling candidacy sets up a primary match between Sipprelle and Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre, who has been laying the groundwork to run against Holt for almost a year.  Halfacre could not immediately be reached for comment, but he has told Republicans that he plans to forge ahead with his campaign.

“I think they’re two potentially good candidates. I think the question is can they raise the money and come up with the issues that will resonate with the voters?” said Mercer County GOP Chairman Roy Wesley.

Wesley, who has not endorsed a candidate, said that Sipprelle could be “prepared to throw some of his own money in.”  

Although Halfacre has already lined up some establishment support, including endorsements from state Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton), state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver), Sipprelle has already hired a top tier team of strategists: GOP consultant Chris Russell; the firm Jamestown Associates, which is run by leading GOP consultant Larry Weitzner; and pollster Jim McLaughlin.  

Sipprelle currently runs the Princeton-based investment firm Westland Ventures.  Prior to that, he ran the hedge fund Copper Arch, and was an executive at Morgan Stanley.  In 2005, Sipprelle, although no longer with Morgan Stanley, started a movement that ousted its CEO, Phil Purcell.  Siprelli’s supporters already tout him as an early critic of Wall Street malfeasance and corporate excess.

Sipprelle has been active on local level politics and has donated thousands of dollars to national Republican campaigns and groups, including the conservative Club for Growth.    He is a Republican committeeman in Mercer County, and has been active in the county’s Capital Republican Club.  

Sipprelle lives in the restored house of former president Grover Cleveland, also wrote The Golden Dog, a mystery novel set on Wall Street.     
Any Republican will face an uphill battle against Holt, a physicist who usually votes with his party but has built a reputation as more of a policy wonk than a partisan firebrand.  His district, which was competitive when he was first elected in 1998, became more Democratic after the last redistricting.  As of September 30, Holt had $590,000 on hand.  

“Most people think this campaign is going to cost a couple million, to run against Holt,” said Wesley.  “They’re looking at the district and saying that if somebody’s going to win, this is the year to do it, given the number of policies coming out of Washington.”

New GOP candidate emerges in NJ-12