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Back Then…The Unofficial History Of NJ 101.5

Republican Christine Todd Whitman ran against incumbent Democratic Governor Jim Florio in 1993 and defeated him after Florio’s first and only term in office back then.

Joe Cutter in the news booth.
Joe Cutter delivers the top-of-the-hour New Jersey news.

On election night, I was situated at the Florio election night party with our Statehouse Correspondent back then, Gene Dillard. Gene was a great reporter who knew just about everybody in and around State government. He was also a good friend who would remove his right arm for you if you needed it.

Anyway, that night at what was supposed to be the Florio re-election party, Gene and I, “did the tour”, talking to movers and shakers and generally working the room as the election results poured in and we did live reports back to anchor Eric Scott.

Two things stand out in my mind about that night back then. One was the fact that then-New Jersey U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli showed up with Bianca Jagger, and everybody wanted to talk to her. The other was the fact that somewhere late in the evening, when it became apparent that Florio was losing, the Governor made an appearance to thank his supporters and campaign people, you know the usual election night, “sorry gang it’s not our night” speech. I remember looking at Dillard while we were on the air with Eric and saying, “Gene, that sounds like a concession speech to me.”

Whitman, of course, was thrilled to win the Governor’s office, the first woman in New Jersey history to achieve that. And she quickly committed herself to do, “Ask the Governor” with Eric Scott.

Not long after the election back then, Governor Whitman was sitting in our studio with Eric, doing the program. They came to a commercial break. To make small talk, Eric asked Whitman how she was getting along living at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s official residence in Princeton.

Back then….

Whitman told Eric that she had a little trouble sleeping because the mansion is located close to Route 206 and she was unaccustomed to the traffic noise after being on her farm in Whippany, which was a lot more quiet.

Whitman said to Eric, “one night when I couldn’t sleep, I came down to the kitchen, and started a conversation with the State Trooper there, who was part of the, “palace guard.” Whitman said she asked the Trooper if the traffic on 206 was always this noisy, especially late. Whitman said the Trooper replied, “Governor Whitman, you should have been here when, ‘old stone face’ (Florio) was Governor. The trucks used to drive by on 206 and blow their air horns, knowing they were passing Drumthwacket.”

Check out more of Joe Cutter’s “Back Then” anytime on NJ 101.5.

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