State Republicans are taking a serious look at Monmouth County GOP Vice Chair Diane Gooch to run against U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), in part because of the depth of her pockets.
Gooch, who lives in Rumson and publishes the Two River Times in Red Bank, is married to Michael Gooch, the CEO of the New York-based brokerage firm GFI group who is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Pallone has about $4 million in the bank – the most of any congressman seeking reelection – even though he’s in a heavily Democratic district. He is usually at the top of observers’ shortlists as a statewide candidate, particularly for U.S. senate if a seat opens up, and has been open about his ambition to someday serve in the upper house. That, and his early criticism of Governor Christopher Christie for assigning lucrative federal monitoring contacts to friends and allies when he was U.S. attorney, has made him a particularly attractive target for Republicans.
Diane Gooch said that, if she runs, her campaign will not be entirely self-funded. Although sources tell PolitickerNJ.com that she and her husband have discussed putting as much as $2 million into the race, Gooch said that they had made no such determination.
“This is something that we haven’t really figured out yet,” she said. “Any number would be completely wrong. I don’t know what we’re going to spend at this point if I’m going to run.”
Michael Gooch has donated widely to both Republicans and Democrats on a federal level. In fact, since 2007, he has donated $6,400 to Pallone, including a $2,400 donation as recently as March of 2009. Diane Gooch, for her part, has also donated extensively, but only to Republicans.
One small obstacle for Gooch: she lives in Rumson, which is in the 12th Congressional District – not Pallone’s 6th Congressional District. Members of Congress are required only to live in the state that they represent, not the district.
“I think Frank Pallone lives in Washington, so I’m much closer than he is,” said Gooch. “Literally, I’m on the line, so whether I cross the line or not, it’s right there. I think people care more about how you’re going to vote for them as opposed to if you live 50 feet left or right.”
Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Ocean Twp.) confirmed last week that she has been mulling a possible challenge to Pallone, but she could get edged out if the GOP finds a challenger with considerable personal financial resources.