The New Jersey Purchase: Jon Corzine's $36 Million Campaign for the Senate

By Hosenball, Mark | Newsweek, June 12, 2000 | Go to article overview

The New Jersey Purchase: Jon Corzine's $36 Million Campaign for the Senate


Hosenball, Mark, Newsweek


Turn on a television in New Jersey these days, and more likely than not he will be looking back at you. He's all over the radio, too, and the newspapers. Jon Corzine wants to be a senator--and he's spending millions to let everyone know it.

Until about two months ago, few voters in the Garden State had ever heard of Corzine. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs was 30 points behind his Democratic primary opponent, former governor Jim Florio. But Corzine has since closed the anonymity gap in a big way, dipping into his $300 million to $400 million personal fortune to finance an unprecedented campaign spending spree. By this Tuesday's primary, he will have shelled out an estimated $36 million to beat Florio--more than any Senate primary candidate in history. Corzine has made hefty donations to civic groups and charities--and filled the coffers of local Democratic candidates. Flipping the traditional fund-raising dinner on its head, he rented a banquet hall and paid for an evening of dinner and music for 800 loyal Democratic voters. At the same time, he has launched a media blitz, spending up to $2 million a week on TV ads.

A year ago Corzine seemed like the last man in New Jersey who'd be angling for a Senate seat. A Wall Street whiz kid, he rose quickly through the ranks at Goldman Sachs and made CEO while still in his 40s. But when he was ousted from his post in a power struggle last year, the 53-year-old multimillionaire started casting around for his next big job. He was soon approached by a group of state Democratic operatives who quietly urged him to run for the seat of retiring Sen. …

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