Michael James Pappas

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Michael James Pappas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Dick Zimmer
Succeeded by Rush Holt
Personal details
Born (1960-12-29) December 29, 1960 (age 53)
New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican

Michael James "Mike" Pappas (born December 29, 1960 in New Brunswick, New Jersey) is a former Republican Congressman from New Jersey.


Pappas was born in 1960 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is a graduate of Alma Preparatory School in Zarephath, New Jersey, and attended Seton Hall University.

Pappas got into politics in the early 1980s, becoming a member of the Franklin Township township council where he served from 1982 to 1987. He was Mayor of Franklin Township, New Jersey for two years. He later would be elected to the Board of Chosen Freeholders for Somerset County, and served from 1984 to 1996, alongside fellow Freeholder Christine Todd Whitman during portions of that period.

In 1996, Pappas won an election to replace Dick Zimmer in the 12th Congressional District in New Jersey (Zimmer ran for the U.S. Senate that year), beating Lambertville Mayor David DelVecchio. Unlike most New Jersey Republicans, Pappas was a staunch conservative. His congressional service included pushing for a stronger national defense, the elimination of the capital gains tax, advocacy for small business, securing the release of the battleship USS New Jersey to the state of New Jersey as a museum, and resurrecting the controversial "Star Wars" national missile defense.

He was a strong supporter of the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and his infamous singing of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Kenneth Starr" on the House floor[1] contributed to his defeat by Rush Holt in 1998.[2][3]

In 2000, Pappas unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in the 12th District, losing a highly contentious primary to the more moderate Zimmer by 62 to 38% margin. Holt narrowly defeated Zimmer in the general election to retain his seat.

During the Bush Administration, Pappas worked for the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C.

Electoral history[edit]

New Jersey's 12th congressional district: Results 1996–1998[4]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 David M. DelVecchio 125,594 47% Michael Pappas 135,811 50% Virginia A. Flynn Independent 3,955 1% Joseph M. Mercurio Independent 2,650 1% *
1998 Rush D. Holt, Jr. 92,528 50% Michael Pappas 87,221 47% Joseph A. Siano Independent 2,125 1% Madelyn R. Hoffman Independent 1,409 1% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1996, Philip G. Cenicola received 1,211 votes. In 1998, Beverly Kidder received 749 votes and Mary Jo Christian received 578 votes.


  1. ^ Beiler, David. "Twinkle, twinkle Kenneth Starr: how physicist Rush Holt used the Clinton scandal to oust a Republican congressman - includes related article on Rush Holt Sr", Campaigns & Elections, May 1999. Accessed August 6, 2007. "On the occasion of Clinton special prosecutor Ken Starr's 52nd birthday, Pappas decided to commemorate the event in song, on the House floor. Following the melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," Pappas crooned (or more accurately, croaked):"
  2. ^ http://www.salon.com/2000/04/13/newjersey/
  3. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/05/nyregion/1998-elections-region-new-jersey-upset-traced-part-partisan-song.html
  4. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Dick Zimmer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Rush Holt