Former Reagan speechwriter Jeff Bell won last week’s Senate Republican primary in New Jersey, which sets him against incumbent Cory Booker in the general election.
Jeff Bell, who has been out of the political spotlight so long that he has an entry in The Political Graveyard, isn’t green to Senate races. His last victorious primary was back in 1978 when he beat the New Jersey’s Republican incumbent, Sen. Clifford Case, who had been in office for 16 years. Bell lost to Democrat Bill Bradley in the general election and was unsuccessful at another primary bid in 1982.
Bell faces a tough campaign in a heavily blue state that hasn’t had a Senate Republican since 1972 even though Booker’s reputation has declined since he became mayor of Newark. However, he has appreciation for his tough odds and believes voters will respond to what The Weekly Standard calls a “pro-growth, pro-Main Street agenda.”
Much of Bell’s political experience revolves around speech writing; in 1976 he wrote many of California Gov. Ronald Reagan’s campaign speeches in the Republican presidential primaries. He also wrote some of Reagan’s campaign ads in the 1980 presidential election. Previously, he wrote speeches for Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election.
Bell’s work for think tanks and national publications has also been extensive. He served as president of the Manhattan Institute and as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Harvard’s Kennedy Institute of Politics. He began contributing to National Review in the 1960s and has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard and The New York Times, as well as authored two books. He also co-founded the American Principles Project.
In recent years, Bell has worked as an activist for tax and monetary reform.
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