Former U.S. Senate candidate and Reagan-era operate Jeff Bell has died, Save Jerseyans.
“I’m very sorry to report the sad news that Jeff Bell died suddenly last night,” tweeted Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, a long-time Bell friend, on Sunday afternoon. “He was a kind and generous man with an original mind, a fighting spirit, and a deep faith. I admired him and am grateful to have been his friend.”
Serving for decades as a Republican operative, consultant, speech writer and policy analyst, Bell famously helped produce ads for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign.
In 1978, in between Reagan’s first and second presidential campaigns (Bell assisted both efforts), veteran U.S. Senator Clifford Case (R-N.J.) lost the primary in his bid for a fifth Senate term to Bell who ran on a conservative outsider message. Bell ultimately lost to Bill Bradley in the general election. New Jersey hasn’t elected a Republican U.S. Senator since.
He ran for Senate two more times; he lost the GOP primary to Republican Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick in 1982, and he later secured the GOP nomination to challenge Cory Booker in 2014 but ultimately losing in the head-to-head contest, 42.4% to 55.8%.
Bell was also the father of four children and a veteran of the Vietnam War.