Dick Zimmer Vows to Keep Tax Dollars in New Jersey

Author:Birritteri, Anthony

While there, he successfully represented New Jersey's non-profit nursing homes in avoiding significant reductions in Medicaid funding and obtained state approval for continuing care retirement communities to provide home healthcare services.


As Dick Zimmer seeks to become a U.S. Senator, the 64-year-old Republican candidate says he is running so that state citizens can keep their tax dollars in their own pockets rather than sending them to Washington. "That can be done by cutting the cost and size of government and keeping taxes low," he says. When he entered the Republican primary on April 11, he promised he would "fight like a tiger to make sure the state gets its fair share of federal spending, but that the better strategy would be to cut federal spending."

Dick Zimmer was born on August 16, 1944, the second child of Evelyn and William Zimmer. The family lived in Hillside, Union County. When Zimmer was three, tragedy struck when his father, a physician, died of a heart attack. His mother was faced with being the sole provider for the family. The Zimmers moved to Bloomfield, where in time, his mother found a job at the Sunshine Biscuits warehouse as a clerk.

When Zimmer was 12, his mother married Howard Rubin, a laundry delivery truck driver, with three children of his own. Rubin would soon work for the Glen Ridge Post Office as a mailman. Subsequently, the family moved to Glen Ridge.

As a Glen Ridge High School senior, Zimmer gave the commencement address at his graduation. His mother, who was suffering from lymphoma, was in attendance. Paramedics had to carry her to the school auditorium. She died a few days later.

As a top student, Zimmer won a full academic scholarship to Yale, graduating in 1966 with honors in political science. He then enrolled in Yale Law School, graduating in 1969. He was also an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Zimmer immediately landed a job as an associate at the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He would stay there until 1975, when he joined the law department of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), New Brunswick, as a general attorney.

While working at Cravath Swaine & Moore and J&J, Zimmer was also chairman (1975-1977) of NJ Common Cause, the nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy group and think tank. While there, he lobbied for New Jersey's Sunshine Law, making government meetings more open to the public. Working closely with then Assemblyman Tom Kean, Zimmer helped champion campaign finance reform. Later, he would serve as treasurer for Kean's 1975 Assembly re-election campaign.

With a taste for politics, Zimmer decided to run for State Assembly in 1981. By this time, he was living in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County, with his wife Marfy Goodspeed, whom he had met while attending Yale, and their two children Carl and Ben. He won the election and would serve until 1987.

In the Assembly, Zimmer served as chairman of the State Government Committee. He was an advocate for open government and Initiative and Referendum and was the prime sponsor of the state's original farmland preservation law as well as the legislation creating the state's radon detection and remediation program.

He won a special election to the State Senate in 1987 upon the death of Senator Walter E. Foran. He would soon be elected for a full term and serve on the Revenue, Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Zimmer would remain in the State Senate until 1990, setting his sights, that last year, on the House of Representatives for the 12th District. In the general election he defeated Marguerite Chandler by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent.

He served in the House for three terms, 1991 - 1997. While there, Zimmer was hailed as the most fiscally conservative member of the entire Congress by the National Taxpayers Union. He was also named a "Taxpayer Hero," on an annual basis, by Citizens Against Government Waste (in two of those years, he was named a "Taxpayer Superhero").

His proudest achievement in Congress was authoring the federal Megan's Law, which requires families to be notified when a convicted sex offender moves into a residential neighborhood. The law was named after Megan Kanka, of Hamilton, who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender. "It was an honor working with Maureen and Richard...

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