Bob Franks

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Bob Franks
Congressman Bob Franks.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byMatt Rinaldo
Succeeded byMike Ferguson
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 22nd district
In office
January 1980 – January 1993
Preceded byDonald DiFrancesco
Succeeded byAlan Augustine
Chair of the New Jersey Republican Party
In office
Preceded byKathleen Donovan
Succeeded byVirginia Littell
In office
Preceded byFrank B. Holman
Succeeded byKathleen Donovan
Personal details
Robert Douglas Franks

(1951-09-21)September 21, 1951
Hackensack, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedApril 9, 2010(2010-04-09) (aged 58)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Frances Smith Franks
  • Kelly
  • Sara
  • Abby
ResidenceNew Providence, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma materDePauw University (BA)
Southern Methodist University (JD)
  • Politician
  • political consultant

Robert Douglas Franks (September 21, 1951 – April 9, 2010) was an American Republican politician who served as a U.S. Representative from New Jersey.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Franks was born on September 21, 1951, in Hackensack, New Jersey, the son of Norman A. Franks (1921–2000) and June E. Franks. He grew up in Glen Rock, New Jersey before his family moved to suburban Chicago. They returned to New Jersey, where Franks attended Summit High School.[3][4] He graduated from DePauw University in 1973 where he was President of the Student Senate, and from the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University in 1976.

Early Political Activities[edit]

He had been involved in Republican politics while growing up, including the races of Senator Charles H. Percy. As a teenager, he returned to his home state. While in Summit, New Jersey, he became involved with the Young Republicans and the Kean for Assembly races. Franks helped to found the Union County Young Republicans Franks then served as an aide, consultant and campaign manager to several congressman including Jim Courter and Dean Gallo as well as Governor Thomas Kean. The primary profession of Franks, however, was that of a newspaper publisher.

New Jersey State Assemblyman[edit]

In 1979, Franks was a candidate for Union County Freeholder when State Senator Peter J. McDonough resigned. Assemblyman Donald DiFrancesco ran for the Senate, and Franks switched to the Assembly race. He defeated Marie Kissebeth, the Berkeley Heights mayor, at the Republican convention.

When he was redistricted into the 22nd Legislative District, a Union/Essex district in 1981 and Essex Republicans demanded an Assembly seat, Franks survived and the Union Republicans dumped another incumbent, William J. Maguire. He was re-elected in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1991.

While in the Assembly, he also served two terms as chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, 1987–89 and 1990–92. In the second term, finding widespread voter discontent with Governor Jim Florio's tax hikes, he led the Republican Party to winning veto-proof majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

He was succeeded in the Assembly by Alan Augustine.[5]

U.S. Congressman[edit]

In 1992, Franks was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives (succeeding Matt Rinaldo), and served four terms in the House from 1993 to 2001. While he was a congressman, he was a member of the Transportation Committee and involved with transportation issues. He was known as a budget "hawk" and was a strong supporter of the Contract with America, including voluntary terms limits.

Franks was the New Jersey campaign chairman for U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp in the campaign for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination. He endorsed New Jersey publisher Steve Forbes in 1996, and U.S. Rep. John Kasich in 2000. Franks and Kasich served together on the House Budget Committee and became close friends. Kasich is the godfather of Franks' eldest daughter, Kelly, and was one of the eulogizers at Franks' 2010 funeral.

2000 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

In 2000, Franks gave up his House seat (true to his "term limits" vow) to become the Republican candidate to the open Senate seat from New Jersey. However, he was defeated by Democrat Jon Corzine.

In this race Franks was far outspent by Corzine, a former CEO, by 48 million dollars, yet still was the closest the Republicans have come to winning a New Jersey United States Senate seat since Clifford Case won a fourth term re-election in 1972.[citation needed] Corzine defeated Franks by less than 100,000 votes and a vote percentage of 51.1% to 47.1% in the 2000 US Senate election.

2001 gubernatorial campaign[edit]

He was defeated for the Republican nomination for New Jersey governor in 2001 by Bret Schundler, who ran on a more conservative platform. Franks entered the 2001 governor's race reluctantly, following the withdrawal of former Governor Donald DiFrancesco, after having previous announced that he would not be a candidate. It is believed this late start cost him the primary as Schundler had a big head start in campaigning and fundraising.

Jack Abramoff helped Schundler raise funds against Franks because of his refusal to hold off a "Made in the USA" bill that harmed Abramoff's clients in the Northern Marianas Islands despite assurances he wouldn't introduce the bill until further discussions occurred. The bill was introduced the next day without further discussions. Abramoff retaliated "He was running for governor. I raised a bunch of money for his opponent in the primary and made sure everyone knew I was doing it. He lost his primary. No other Republican tried to slap the CNMI while I was a lobbyist." Abramoff said in an interview.[6]

Franks remained involved in New Jersey politics and was often mentioned as a potential candidate for high offices, but Franks discouraged such speculation. Many thought that his next public office, if any, would have been appointive.

Franks served as President of the Health Care Institute of New Jersey. There was speculation he might run again for Congress when his successor, Mike Ferguson, announced in 2007 that he would not seek reelection in 2008. However, Franks then declined to run, saying "Representing the people of Central New Jersey in the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001 was one of the important and rewarding experiences of my life; however I find my work at the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey very fulfilling and I'm enjoying nights and weekends with my family... I have no desire to run for Congress next year."[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

A resident of Warren Township, New Jersey, Franks died of cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City on April 9, 2010.[8]

On September 24, 2013, at the dedication of a rail station in Union, New Jersey in honor of Franks, Gov. Chris Christie revealed that he had offered Franks the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor on his ticket in 2009, but that he was turned down. Christie then went to his second choice, Kim Guadagno.[9]

Electoral history[edit]

New Jersey's 7th congressional district: Results 1992–1998[10]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Leonard Sendelsky 105,761 43% Bob Franks 132,174 53% Eugene J. Gillespie Independent 4,043 2% Bill Campbell No Nonsense Government 2,612 1% Spencer Layman Libertarian 1,964 1% *
1994 Karen Carroll 64,231 39% Bob Franks 98,814 60% James J. Cleary LaRouche Was Right 2,331 1% *
1996 Larry Lerner 97,285 42% Bob Franks 128,821 55% Dorothy DeLaura Independent 4,076 2% Nicholas Gentile Independent 1,693 1% Robert G. Robertson Independent 696 <1%
1998 Maryanne Connelly 65,776 44% Bob Franks 77,751 53% Richard C. Martin Independent 3,007 2% Darren Young Independent 1,508 1%
Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, John L. Kucek running as an America First Populist received 844 votes and Kevin Michael Criss running under People's Congressional Preference received 684 votes. In 1994, Claire Greene received 481 votes.
2000 U.S. Senate Race – Republican Primary[citation needed]
Candidate Pct Candidate Pct Candidate Pct
Bob Franks 36% William Gormley 34% Others 30%
2000 United States Senate election, Senate Class 1, New Jersey[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jon S. Corzine 1,511,237 50
Republican Bob Franks 1,420,267 47
Independent Bruce Afran 32,841 1
Independent Pat DiNizio 19,312 1
Independent Emerson Ellett 7,241 <1%
Independent Dennis A. Breen 6,061 <1%
Independent J. M. Carter 5,657 <1%
Independent Lorraine LaNeve 3,836 <1%
Independent Gregory Pason 3,365 <1%
Independent Nancy Rosenstock 3,309 <1%
Independent George Gostigian 2,536 <1%
Majority 90,970 3
Democratic hold Swing


  1. ^ Obituary The Washington Post, April 12, 2010.
  2. ^ Obituary The New York Times, April 11, 2010; page A22.
  3. ^ Dowling, Matthew J. "Election 2000 / For Franks, Family Life, Politics Go Hand In Hand", The Press of Atlantic City, October 29, 2000. Accessed February 28, 2011. "Franks, 49, was born in Hackensack and grew up in Glen Rock and Summit before attending college at DePauw University in Indiana."
  4. ^ Pizarro, Max. "New Jersey bids farewell to a beloved native son: Bob Franks (1951-2010)", The New York Observer, April 17, 2010. Accessed October 14, 2018. "Kean's eulogy took the crowd back to Mr. Franks's early days in politics, when he graduated from Summit High School and went to work for the future governor – a 'pied piper,' who brought other young people with him to help the campaign, motivated by Mr. Franks's enthusiasm for the cause."
  5. ^ Leusner, Donna. "Alan Augustine, Scotch Plains mayor and assemblyman", The Star-Ledger, June 12, 2001.
  6. ^ "6 Insane Details of Corrupt Politics That Movies Get Wrong".
  7. ^ "Franks won't seek return to House". 20 November 2007.
  8. ^ Staff. "More than 1,000 hear four governors praise Bob Franks, mentor and friend, at cathedral", Echoes-Sentinel, April 23, 2010. Accessed October 21, 2015. "Former U.S. Rep. Bob Franks of Warren Township, who had died eight days earlier of cancer at the age of 58, was remembered on Saturday, April 17, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Newark, in a 75-minute memorial attended by more than 1,000 people."
  9. ^ "Christie says he asked late Congressman Bob Franks to be running mate in 2009".
  10. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2008-01-10.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Matthew J. Rinaldo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mike Ferguson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank B. Holman
Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee
Succeeded by
Kathleen Donovan
Preceded by
Kathleen Donovan
Chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee
Succeeded by
Virginia Littell
Preceded by
Chuck Haytaian
Republican Nominee for the U.S. Senate (Class 1) from New Jersey
Succeeded by
Tom Kean, Jr.