Frank Pallone has been my congressman for almost twenty years. Through ten election cycles, I don’t recall Pallone ever promoting himself as a family man. I didn’t even know he was married (to a woman) until 2010 when, during Anna Little’s first campaign against him, triCityNews columnist Ernesto Cullari revealed that Pallone’s wife, Sarah had secured a six figure job in the Environmental Protection Agency.
So I was surprised to find the above Pallone family portrait on Frank’s Senate campaign website and facebook page. In his video ad, Typical Jersey Story, Frank looks into the camera and says, “Sarah and I have three teenagers, which means that things are a little crazy at home, most of the time.” Frank’s facebook introduction starts,”Husband, Father, Democrat, Public Servant. Frank Pallone, Jr. has been fighting for the people of this state for over 2 decades.”
After wondering why Pallone’s eldest daughter isn’t squinting, the next question to occur to me upon seeing the portrait was, “Why after almost three decades of keeping his family life private, is Pallone trotting his family out on the campaign trail?”
It seems obviously that Pallone is seeking to create another contrast between himself and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is not married and keeps his private life private, just like Frank did, until this campaign.
But “typical Jersey story” Pallone was already a member of Congress for 2 terms when he married Sarah, then a real estate industry lobbyist from Maryland. Booker is only two years older now than Pallone was when he got married and started his family in Washington.
Pallone also contrasts himself to Booker by advertising the fact that he drives a Chevy. “I approved this ad because New Jersey needs a Senator who drives a Chevy. Let the other guys take the limo,” Pallone says at the closing of his Chevy ad. But a review of Frank’s campaign finance reports shows that he paid Chase Auto Finance $614 per month from August of 2009 through January of this year out of his campaign fund for car payments. That’s an expensive Chevy, paid for by campaign donors, that was serviced at a Jeep dealership.