WEST CALDWELL—Matthew J. Rinaldo, who represented New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives for twenty years, has died. He was 77.
Rinaldo, who was born in Elizabeth, won an open House seat in 1972 when Florence Dwyer retired.
The G.O.P. member did not seek re-election in 1992, dropping his re-election bid in September and taking advantage of a law that allowed him to convert $1 million in his campaign fund for personal use. More than 100 representatives—one out of four—retired or were defeated in primaries in 1992, resulting in the greatest upheaval in the House since World War II.
Republican Bob Franks, then a member of the Assembly and state GOP chairman, won his Seventh Congressional District seat.
Rinaldo was elected to the Union County Board of Freeholders in 1963, and to the state Senate in 1972. A moderate Republican who was renowned for bucking his party on behalf of organized labor and other New Jersey interests, Rinaldo said he had decided to retire because he was frustrated after two decades in the minority.
“There is no Republican now serving in the House of Representatives who has ever chaired a committee, gaveled a hearing to order, or scheduled a bill for debate on the House floor,” he said in a three-page statement announcing his retirement release on Sept. 11, 1992. “Unfortunately, I do not foresee any prospect of that changing in the near term.”
The GOP captured control of the House and selected Newt Gingrich as Speaker two years later.
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