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Schundler's Good Fortune
Steve Forbes To Be Mayor's Campaign Chairman In Gubernatorial Run

Originally appeared in The Jersey Journal, Wednesday, May 10, 2000
By Peter Weiss

Two nationally prominent New Jersey Republicans will become leaders of Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler's campaign for governor next year.

Publisher Steve Forbes, whose unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for president this year earned Schundler's support, will become the mayor's campaign chairman.

Lawrence Bathgate, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, will be co-finance chairman for Schundler, along with Peter Flanigan, a retired investment banker.

Steve Forbes And Bret Schundler

"Steve believes Bret would be a great governor," said a Forbes spokesman. "He's the type of Republican who has proven he can succeed in reaching out to a wide voter base in Jersey City. He's been an extremely successful chief executive, and that's what New Jersey needs."

Schundler is in his second full term as mayor. He won a special election in 1992, then won four-year terms in 1993 and 1997. The elections were non-partisan, although opponents made an issue of Schundler's Republicanism.

Schundler said he doesn't plan to make a formal announcement of his candidacy, nor start heavy fund raising, until after the November elections. However, he has an event planned for next month to "raise some capital" for the organizing effort. He declined to say how much he wants to raise at the event, but sources said the campaign is hoping for about $500,000.

"I feel pretty good about how things are developing," Schundler said, although he kept open the possibility of a return to City Hall.

"If I made a decision not to run for governor, I would run for mayor again," Schundler said. He said he thought he could change his mind as late as six weeks before the municipal election.

Bathgate said Jersey City's revitalization under Schundler should make a strong selling point for his candidacy.

"I think he's done an outstanding job in Jersey City," Bathgate said. "I think he'll make a terrific governor. One thing he's got is a story to tell (about Jersey City). Whether it resonates with Republican voters is something to be seen. I'm looking forward to it."

Bathgate said he anticipates a close three-way contest for the Republican nomination. Schundler, state Senate President Donald DiFrancesco and Assembly Speaker Jack Collins "are all competent candidates. It will be an interesting selection for Republican primary voters."

Schundler is the only one with executive experience.

"He is without question a very bright, articulate, attractive candidate," Bathgate said. "He's attracting significant interest throughout the state. I think he's a very credible candidate."

Forbes and Bathgate have teamed to help Schundler before. In December 1997, Bathgate was the dinner chairman and Forbes was the guest speaker at an event on Ellis Island that raised some $500,000 for the mayor.


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