The 2000 United States Senate election in New Jersey was held on November 7, 2000. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg decided to retire, instead of seeking a fourth term. Democrat nominee, former CEO of Goldman SachsJon Corzine defeated Republican nominee, U.S. Congressman Bob Franks, in a close election. In January 2006, Corzine resigned from the Senate to become Governor of New Jersey.
Corzine spent $35 million of his fortunes into this primary election alone. when running against Jim Florio, who served as the 50th Governor of New Jersey from 1990 to 1994. Due to an unpopularity of the Governor, Corzine defeated Florio in the primary and then defeated Bob Franks in the general election.
During the campaign, Corzine refused to release his income tax return records. He claimed an interest in doing so, but he cited a confidentiality agreement with Goldman Sachs. Skeptics argued that he should have followed the example of his predecessor Robert Rubin, who converted his equity stake into debt upon leaving Goldman.
During Corzine's campaign for the United States Senate, he made some controversial off-color statements. When introduced to a man with an Italian name who said he was in the construction business, Corzine quipped: “Oh, you make cement shoes!" according to Emanuel Alfano, chairman of the Italian-American One Voice Committee. Alfano also reported that when introduced to a lawyer named David Stein, Corzine said: "He's not Italian, is he? Oh, I guess he's your Jewish lawyer who is here to get the rest of you out of jail." Corzine denied mentioning religion, but did not deny the quip about Italians, claiming that some of his own ancestors were probably Italian, or maybe French.
Also in 2000, Corzine denied having paid off African-American ministers, when in fact the foundation controlled by him and his wife had paid one influential black church $25,000. Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, director of the Black Ministers Council, had campaigned against a form of racial profiling whereby police officers stop minority drivers and had gotten New Jersey state police superintendent, Carl A. Williams, fired. Corzine had donated to Jackson prior to getting what appears to be a reciprocal endorsement.
Franks generally trailed Corzine in the polls until the very last week, when he pulled even in a few polls. Corzine spent $63 million, while Franks spent only $6 million. Despite being heavily outspent, Franks lost by only three percentage points, doing better that year than Republican Governor George W. Bush in the presidential election, who obtained just 40% of the vote in the state.