Steve Rothman

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Steve Rothman
Steve Rothman, official photo portrait color.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Robert Torricelli
Succeeded by Bill Pascrell
Mayor of Englewood
In office
Preceded by Sondra Greenberg
Succeeded by Donald Aronson
Personal details
Born (1952-10-14) October 14, 1952 (age 63)
Englewood, New Jersey
Political party Democratic
Children 2
Residence Englewood, New Jersey
Alma mater Syracuse University, Washington University School of Law
Occupation Attorney
Religion Judaism

Steven R. "Steve" Rothman (born October 14, 1952) is an American politician from the state of New Jersey. He is a former U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 9th congressional district, serving from January 3, 1997 to January 3, 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He was defeated on June 5, 2012 in a primary election by fellow incumbent Bill Pascrell.

Early life, education, and pre-congressional career[edit]

Rothman was born on October 14, 1952, in Englewood, New Jersey to a Jewish family, and grew up in nearby Tenafly, where he graduated from Tenafly High School in 1970. He earned a B.A. degree in 1974 from Syracuse University, where he majored in Political Philosophy and was awarded a J.D. degree from the Washington University School of Law in 1977. He worked as an attorney from 1978 to 1993. He served two terms as Mayor of Englewood, from 1983 to 1989, and served as a Surrogate Court judge in Bergen County from 1993 to 1996.[1]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



In 1996, incumbent Democrat U.S. Representative Robert Torricelli of the 9th congressional district decided to run for the United States Senate that was being vacated by Bill Bradley, creating a vacancy in the house seat.[2] Rothman decided to run for the seat and won the Democratic primary with 79% of the vote, defeating Robert M. Gordon with 17% and Lynne Athay Dow who received 3% of the vote.[3][4] In the general election, he defeated Republican County Clerk Kathleen Donovan 56.6%-42.2%, with two independent candidates taking up the remainder of the vote.[5][6][7][8]


Rothman won re-election to a second term, defeating Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota, New Jersey 64.6%-33.8%, with three independent candidates receiving less than 2% of the vote.[9][10][11][12]


During this time period, he won re-election every two years with at least a 36-point margin.[13]


Rothman's 2008 re-election campaign raised eyebrows when it spent $1.3 million in a race against a little-known, poorly funded Republican challenger, including outlays of $59,000 in campaign funds to buy outright a hybrid SUV and $15,000 for a lavish party at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Rothman's Chief of Staff at the time, Robert Decheine, acknowledged to the news media that Rothman's 2008 re-election campaign had spent no money on advertising or direct mail.[14] He defeated Republican Vince Micco 68%-31%.[15]


In addition to Decheine's annual salary on Rothman's government payroll - which was $168,408 in the last full year it was publicly reported before Decheine's November 2010 termination following his arrest on charges of soliciting sex from a minor - he drew tens of thousands of dollars in pay from Rothman's various campaign funds.[16]

In 2009, the Rothman campaign reported to the Federal Election Commission that one of its credit cards had been stolen and used to run up thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges at a motel in Bethesda, Maryland, mostly to rent videos and order pizzas. Decheine was quoted by Politico as saying, “Steve never stayed there; I never stayed there; so we quickly discovered it was fraud."[17]

He defeated Republican Michael Agosta 61%-38%, his slimmest margin of victory since his first election in 1996.[18]


After redistricting, Rothman's hometown of Fair Lawn was placed in the Republican-leaning Fifth District, which is represented by Republican Scott Garrett. Rather than challenge Garrett, Rothman moved back to Englewood in the reconfigured Ninth, which with redistricting put him in a primary race with fellow Democrat Bill Pascrell of Paterson.[19] Rothman then currently represented 53% of what was becoming the new 9th, and Pascrell had represented 43% of the redrawn 9th CD as the incumbent in the 8th CD.[20] Rothman had been endorsed by Hudson County Democratic Chairman Mark Smith and Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato.[21] Pascrell defeated him 61%-39%.[22]

Rothman's candidacy in the 2012 primary race reportedly devolved into a highly competitive proxy war over Israel. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, published a column in the Newark Star Ledger titled, “Rothman is Israel’s Man in District 9" in which he wrote:

“As total and blind support becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s [flag]."[23]

Arabic-language campaign posters produced by Pascrell supporters reportedly encouraged the “Arab diaspora community" to elect Pascrell, “the friend of the Arabs." The poster touted the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab American] community."[23][24][25]

Susan Rosenbluth, publisher of the New Jersey-based Jewish Voice and Opinion wrote that "a number of Arab-American constituents have come out with outrageous attacks on Rothman," and commented that "I haven’t heard a dual loyalty charge for years." She also sharply criticized Pascrell for remaining silent and refusing to condemn the charges of dual loyalty.[25][26][27][28]


In Congress, Rothman helped secure money for improving transportation and relieving highway congestion, improving local homeland security, police and firefighting technology, improving education, providing relief to the unemployed, and sponsoring a bill to stop large airplanes from taking off at Teterboro Airport because of the excessive noise in residential areas. Rothman is also credited for saving the New Jersey Meadowlands from urban construction and securing millions of dollars for the protection and study of the environment and wildlife. He has consistently supported veterans' groups in New Jersey.

Rothman strongly opposed Former President George W. Bush's tax-cut plans, his health care issues, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil drilling plan, and various other Republican Party and Bush Administration backed plans. Rothman earned an F from the taxpayers advocacy organization National Taxpayers Union in 2004.

In September 2009, Rothman was criticized by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan government watchdog organization, for his role in securing a $1.5 million earmark appropriation for a defense contracting firm that had hired his former employee Jeff Zucker as its lobbyist. Zucker contributed and raised thousands of dollars for Rothman's campaign fund.[29] News accounts later reported that a witness in a federal corruption trial had offered testimony asserting that Rothman had written several letters supporting the clients of a lobbying firm co-owned by Dennis Oury, who subsequently pled guilty to the federal charges; Rothman had been one of the largest beneficiaries of Oury's campaign contributions in the years prior to Oury's conviction.[30]

In October 2010, the New York Times reported the announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it was revoking an approval granted to an experimental patch purporting to heal injured knees,[31] an approval that an F.D.A. report stated had been improperly granted in 2008 in part as a result of "extreme" and "unusual" political pressure mounted by Rothman and three other New Jersey legislators. Executives at the company that produced the patch, ReGen Biologics, which was based in Rothman's district in Hackensack, had contributed a total of $11,300 to his various campaign committees.[32] The Times criticized Rothman by name in a stinging editorial describing the episode as "a shabby affair" that "shines much-needed light on the insidious ways that politicians can influence regulatory decisions — and the insidious influence of money in politics."[33]

Rothman has a lifetime rating of 82.54% with Progressive Punch, which in 2006 ranked him as the 162nd most Progressive member of Congress. He is listed by as the 107th most powerful person in the House of Representatives and the 104th most powerful Democrat.[34] According to the National Journal, Rothman had a composite liberal score of 82 as of 2006.

Rothman was featured on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, in Stephen Colbert's part nine of the "Better Know A District" segment, which highlighted Rothman and New Jersey's 9th District, and originally aired on January 12, 2006.[35] In February 2010, Rothman announced $4.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to train military medical professionals in bloodless medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.[36]

In November 2010, Rothman's longtime Chief of Staff, Robert Decheine, was arrested in Gaithersburg, Maryland on charges of soliciting sex from someone who had allegedly identified "herself" to him over the Internet as a 15-year-old girl, but who in reality was a law enforcement agent in a sting operation organized by federal and local authorities.[37] Rothman promptly fired Decheine after being informed of the arrest.[38]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Congressional Missing and Exploited Children Caucus
  • House Caucus on U.S.-Israel Security Cooperation
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • U.S.-Philippines Friendship Congressional Caucus
  • Congressional Arts Caucus

Electoral history[edit]

New Jersey's 9th congressional district: Results 1996–2010[39][40]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996[6] Steve Rothman 117,646 55.8% Kathleen Donovan 89,005 42.2% Arthur Rosen Independent 2,730 1.3% Leon Myerson Independent 1,549 0.7%
1998[9] Steve Rothman 91,330 64.6% Steve Lonegan 47,817 33.8% Michael Perrone Independent 1,349 1.0% Michael Koontz Independent 686 0.5% *
2000 Steve Rothman 140,462 68% Joseph Tedeschi 61,984 30% Lewis Pell Independent 2,273 1% Michael Perrone Independent 1,072 1% *
2002 Steve Rothman 97,108 70% Joseph Glass 42,088 30%
2004 Steve Rothman 146,038 68% Edward Trawinski 68,564 32% David Daly Libertarian 1,649 1%
2006 Steve Rothman 105,853 71% Vincent Micco 40,879 28% Michael Jarvis The Moderate Choice 1,363 1%
2008 Steve Rothman 151,182 68% Vincent Micco 69,503 31% Michael Perrone Independent/Progressive 3,200 1%
2010 Steve Rothman 83,564 61% Michael A. Agosta 52,082 38% Patricia Alessandrini Green 1,980 1%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1998, Kenneth Ebel received 277 votes. In 2000, Robert Corriston received 980 votes.


  1. ^ About Steve, Representative Steven Rothman. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  2. ^ via Associated Press. "FLORIO SAYS HE WON'T RUN FOR SENATE", The Press of Atlantic City, October 11, 1995. Accessed July 4, 2012. "After weeks of openly toying with the idea, former Gov. Jim Florio on Tuesday said he will not run for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley's seat next year.... Florio pledged support for U.S. Rep. Robert Torricelli, who has lined up major Democratic Party backing and more than $1 million for a Senate run."
  3. ^ Official List - Primary Election Returns for the Office of U.S. House of Representatives for Election Held June 4, 1996, New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections, July 2, 1996. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  4. ^ NJ District 09 - D Primary: 1996, Accessed July 4, 2012.
  5. ^ Newman, Andy. "Torricelli's Old Seat Taken by Rothman", The New York Times, November 6, 1996. Accessed July 4, 2012."The Congressional seat left open by Robert G. Torricelli's successful run for the United States Senate was filled by a fellow Democrat. Steven A. Rothman, the former Mayor of Mr. Torricelli's hometown of Englewood, defeated Kathleen A. Donovan, the Bergen County Clerk and former chairwoman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in the Ninth District race."
  6. ^ a b Official List - General Election Returns for the Office of House of Representatives for Election Held November 5, 1996, New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections, January 31, 1997. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  7. ^ Carle, Robin H. Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996, Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, July 29, 1977. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  8. ^ NJ District 9 - 1996, Accessed July 4, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Official List - Candidate Returns for House of Representatives for November 1998 General Election, New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections, December 1, 1998. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  10. ^ Lewin, Tamar. "THE 1998 ELECTIONS: STATE BY STATE -- NORTHEAST; NEW JERSEY", The New York Times, November 5, 1998. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  11. ^ Trendahl, Jeff. Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1998, Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, January 3, 1999. Accessed July 4, 2012.
  12. ^ NJ District 9 - 1998, Accessed July 4, 2012.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Rothman Used Re-Election Funds for Hybrid SUV, and Convention Shindig, Reports Say", The Jersey Journal, January 4, 2009.
  15. ^
  16. ^ [1] Jackson, Herb, "Rothman Fires Chief of Staff Following Arrest", The Record (Bergen County), November 23, 2010
  17. ^ [2] Sherman, Jake, "Thief Uses Rothman Campaign Credit Card", Politic, October 9, 2009
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b Rothman is Israel's man in District 9 by Aref Assaf, Newark Star Ledger, February 19, 2012.(original column by Assaf)
  24. ^ Defeating the Jewish Alinskyites by Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2012.
  25. ^ a b Jersey Roar - Democratic House primary turns into ethnic proxy war over Israel by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, June 1, 2012.
  26. ^ Pascrell (Still) Won't Repudiate anti-Semitic Slurs by Joel Himelfarb, Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 4, 2012.
  27. ^ Pascrell Stays Silent on Dual-Loyalty Slur by Alana Goodman, Commentary Magazine, February 24, 2012.
  28. ^ UPDATE: Pascrell backer: Rothman is a 'patriot,' but campaign won't condemn Assaf by Zach Silberman, Washington Jewish Week, February 23, 2012.
  29. ^ [3]Center for Public Integrity, "The Murtha Method: Computer Analysis Shows 12 of 16 House Defense Subcommittee Members in Controversial Circles of Lobbyists, Earmarks, and Campaign Cash", September 9, 2009
  30. ^ [4] Edge, Wally,, "Rothman's Weak Fundraising Could Lead to Retirement Speculation", October 16, 2009
  31. ^ [5] Harris, Gardiner, "F.D.A. Vows to Revoke Approval of Device", New York Times, October 14, 2010
  32. ^ [6] Harris, Gardiner and Halbfinger, David, "F.D.A. Reveals It Fell to a Push by Lawmakers", New York Times, September 24, 2009.
  33. ^ [7] Editorial, "Science and Lobbying at the F.D.A.", New York Times, October 4, 2010
  34. ^ [8] Congress.Org's Rating for Steve Rothman,
  35. ^ [9]Colbert Report "Better Know A District: New Jersey's 9th" video clip, Comedy Central website
  36. ^ Jess, Kevin. "U.S military to train in bloodless medicine". Digital Journal, accessed February 7, 2011
  37. ^ [10] Isherwood, Darryl R., "Breaking: Decheine Arrested on Charges of Sexual Solicitation of a Minor",, November 23, 2010
  38. ^ [11] Newhauser, Daniel, "Rothman's Chief of Staff Accused of Soliciting a Minor", Roll Call, November 23, 2010
  39. ^ [12] Website of the Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives
  40. ^ NJ Secretary of State 2010 election results

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert Torricelli
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Pascrell
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)