Mild-mannered Senator Bob Gordon (D-Paramus) had an unlikely, seat-of-your-pants-baseball rise in Bergen County politics.
It started in 1996 when Gordon, then the mayor of Fair Lawn, challenged for the CD9 seat and failed to secure the backing of the Bergen County Democratic Organization.
The organization supported then-Surrogate (and former Englewood Mayor) Steve Rothman.
Despite not having the backing of the organization, Gordon ran anyway – and got buried. Off the line, he won 6% of the vote to Rothman’s 94%.
It looked like Gordon was finished.
But fast forward to 2003 and Assemblyman Matt Ahearn‘s flame-out with then-Chairman Joe Ferriero.
Dumped by the boss, Ahearn joined the Green Party as an anti-establishment crusader.
So Gordon picked up the phone and said he was interested, and the party decided, after years of consigning the former Nixon College Republican to the wilderness, to give him a shot.
Gordon – running over Ahearn in the general and incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Rose Heck – went to Trenton as an assemblyman with the backing of the formal backing of the Democratic Party. Then in 2007, Senator Joe Coniglio tapped out of his reelection bid amid buzz of imminent arrest on corruption charges. Ferriero – later jammed up himself in his own corruption case – turned to the unimpeachable Gordon, who jumped into the senate race.
He has served in the senate for nine years, surviving energized general election attempts in the era of Republican Governor Chris Christie to dethrone him.