Battle for NJ Senate Seat

TRENTON, NJ - October 23, 2008 - Incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg is enjoying a 16% lead over Republican challenger Dick Zimmer.

8% of those questioned in the Monmouth University - Gannett poll were undecided.

Zimmer is hoping to convince those voters it's time for a change.

"After 24 years of representation by Frank Lautenberg, we have a terrible energy crisis, a taxation crisis and now a financial crisis," Zimmer said. "Frank Lautenberg has not addressed these really important issues. In fact, he's made all of them worse."

Zimmer, a Washington lawyer and lobbyist, served three terms in congress from 1991 to 1996 and was named the most fiscally conservative member of Congress three times by the National Taxpayers Union. He authored the national Megan's Law.

Lautenberg, a former businessman, is looking for a fifth term in the Senate. He's been a champion of transportation and environmental issues and wrote the law that raised the national drinking age to 21.

He says he has even more goals he'd like to accomplish.

"Making sure people have portable health care, that we're protected against terrorist attack, to make sure there's and education available. Those are the things I want to do, keep working on behalf of the state and the country," Lautenberg said.

Lautenberg has had few public appearances during the campaign. Zimmer claims there's a reason for that.

"It's quite clear that his handlers, and perhaps he, feel that when he's off script he may say something that embarrasses him," Zimmer said.

Critics say Lautenberg is too old for Washington, but the Senator says his age is not a problem.

"It don't think it's an issue. It's a question of effectiveness," Lautenberg said.

The candidates will debate twice just days before the November 4th election.

Zimmer is facing an uphill battle. Lautenberg is leading in the polls and in one survey a large majority of voters had no idea who Dick Zimmer is.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.