Jeff Bell

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Jeff Bell
Jeff Bell, 2014.JPG
Personal details
Jeffrey Langley Bell

(1943-12-13)December 13, 1943
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedFebruary 10, 2018(2018-02-10) (aged 74)
Annandale, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Rosalie O'Connell
EducationColumbia University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Battles/warsVietnam War
 • Tet Offensive

Jeffrey Langley Bell (December 13, 1943 – February 10, 2018) was an American Republican Party politician, political consultant, author, and presidential speechwriter.[1] He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from New Jersey in 1978, was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Senate in 1982, and was the nominee against Democratic incumbent Cory Booker in 2014.

Early life and education[edit]

A native of Washington, D.C., Bell was a graduate of Columbia University in New York City and a veteran of the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive.[2][3][4]

Personal life[edit]

He married Rosalie O'Connell, fathered four children, and resided in Annandale in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Leonia in Bergen County in northeastern New Jersey

Academic and consultancy work[edit]

Bell was a former president of the Manhattan Institute, served as a fellow of the Harvard Institute of Politics at Harvard University; a visiting professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University; and as the DeWitt Wallace Fellow in Communications at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He most recently served on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union and of the Campaign Finance Institute at George Washington University. Bell was also a visiting scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.[5]

From 1988 to 2000, Bell served as president of Lehrman Bell Mueller Cannon, an economic and political forecasting company based in Arlington, Virginia. A principal of Capital City Partners from 2000 to 2012, a public affairs firm, Bell participated in the firm's contract with the United States Department of Health and Human Services to promote greater awareness of human trafficking in the United States. From 2010 to 2014, Bell was the director of policy of the American Principles Project (APP),[6] a Washington-based advocacy group. He headed APP's "Gold Is Money" project, which advocates a return to the gold standard in the United States.[6]


External video
Booknotes interview on Populism and Elitism, July 12, 1992, C-SPAN

Bell authored two books on modern American politics. The first, Populism and Elitism: Politics in the Age of Equality, published in 1992, was called by political journalist Fred Barnes, then with The New Republic, "the most important political book" of 1992. His second book, The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism, was published by Encounter Books on March 6, 2012. James Taranto in a February 2012 Wall Street Journal article, summarized the Bell thesis as follows:

Bell discussed his book on an August 19, 2012 C-SPAN Washington Journal program. C-SPAN Bell Interview Bell has also written articles for numerous publications, most recently The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard.

On the death of his friend Jack Kemp in 2009, Bell penned a eulogy crediting Kemp as the father of the economic policies of the Reagan administration, with Reagan as the principal architect of his own foreign policies.[7]

Political career[edit]

Early work[edit]

Bell worked as an aide to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and to U.S. Representative Jack Kemp of New York.

In the 1968 presidential election, Bell was working on the Nixon presidential campaign. On the evening of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination after the California primary, Bell happened to be the only staffer on hand at the Nixon campaign headquarters and made the phone call to the former vice-president's senior staff to notify them of Senator Kennedy's shooting.[3]

Reagan's "$90 Billion" speech[edit]

In 1975, Bell was responsible for a speech given by Ronald Reagan when he was running against President Gerald Ford in the Republican presidential primaries. In it, Reagan proposed a "systematic transfer of authority and resources to the states - a program of creative federalism for America's third century. Federal authority has clearly failed to do the job. Indeed, it has created more problems in welfare, education, housing, food stamps, Medicaid, community and regional development, and revenue sharing, to name a few. The sums involved and the potential savings to the taxpayer are large. Transfer of authority in whole or part in all of these areas would reduce the outlay of the federal government by more than $90 billion, using the spending levels of fiscal 1975. With such a savings it would be possible to balance the federal budget, make an initial $5 billion payment on the national debt and cut the federal personal income tax of every American by an average of 23 percent."

Bell's speech was intended to provide Reagan with a philosophical edge over President Ford. The Ford campaign, however, seized on it as evidence that in primary states like New Hampshire, which pay no state sales tax or income tax, that the state would have to come up with its own funds for programs. Reagan lost the New Hampshire primary to Ford, and the Bell policy was interpreted by some as a contributing factor.

1978 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In 1978, Bell challenged four-term liberal Republican Senator Clifford P. Case in the New Jersey primary. In a stunning upset, Bell defeated Case on June 6, 1978, the same day Proposition 13 passed in California (the East and West Coast tax revolts), on a platform of income tax rate reduction that foreshadowed the Reagan tax rate cuts of 1981. Bell lost the general election to Democrat Bill Bradley, by a 55%-to-43% margin. No Republican has been elected to the U.S. Senate in New Jersey since Case's last victory in 1972.

1980 Reagan television spots[edit]

In 1980, Bell produced and co-wrote the television commercials used by the Reagan presidential campaign in New Hampshire and subsequent primaries. The commercials, which focused on Reagan's policy to fight inflation by lowering taxes, were highly effective in boosting Reagan's popularity in the primary polls.[8] In The Reagan Revolution (Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, 1981), the effectiveness of these commercials is addressed:

1982 U.S. Senate election[edit]

Democratic Senator Harrison A. Williams resigned from the Senate in 1982 after being convicted of taking bribes as part of the Abscam sting operation. Republican Governor Thomas Kean appointed Nicholas F. Brady to serve until a special election could be held.

Bell decided to run again, but was defeated in the Republican primary by moderate Republican Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick. Fenwick was subsequently narrowly defeated in November by Democrat Frank Lautenberg.

Other political work[edit]

Bell was elected as a Reagan delegate from New Jersey to the Republican National Convention in 1980. As deputy chairman of the pro-Reagan group Citizens for America, Bell was actively involved in the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. In addition to his work on the 1980 Reagan campaign, Bell was on the national campaign staff for Richard Nixon in 1968 and Reagan in 1976. In 1988, Bell served as the national campaign coordinator for Kemp for President and in 2000 he worked as a senior consultant to Gary Bauer's short-lived presidential campaign.

2014 U.S. Senate candidacy[edit]

In February 2014 Bell rented a home in Leonia, New Jersey and announced he would run for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Cory Booker, running on an anti-Federal Reserve and populist platform.[10][11] He narrowly won a four-way Republican primary on June 3, 2014, securing the nomination. Some of his promises are to restore the prosperity of the middle class by restoring the value of the dollar and not the value of the gold. By giving education that children deserve, promote legal immigration.[12] Jeff Bell lost to Cory Booker in a 42.4% to 55.8% percentage vote respectively, approximately the same percentages as in the 1978 Bell-Bradley Senate race 36 years earlier. The popular vote results were 1,016,204 for Cory Booker and 772,991 for Jeff Bell.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Transcript of Jeff Bell on Conversations with Bill Kristol".
  3. ^ a b "Jeff Bell on Conversations with Bill Kristol".
  4. ^ US News and World Report, "Two Tall, Young Ivy Leaguers Go At It", 10-9-1978, p.26
  5. ^ Home > Fellows & Scholars > Archived 2007-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Jeffrey Bell: Kemp Brought America Back from 1970s". Archived from the original on May 6, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
  8. ^ The Reagan Revolution, 1981, p.78
  9. ^ The Reagan Revolution, 1981, p.62
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Cory Booker: For Whom the Bell Tolls". 3 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Bell wins N.J. Senate primary".

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Clifford Case
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New Jersey
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Mary Mochary
Preceded by
Steve Lonegan
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New Jersey
(Class 2)

Most recent