Richard Joseph "Dick" LaRossa (born July 1, 1946) is an American Republican Party politician and former television presenter who served two terms in the New Jersey Senate, where he represented the 15th Legislative District.
Early years and education
LaRossa was born and raised in Trenton, where he attended Notre Dame High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), with a major in speech and theater and did graduate work in psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is the owner of the Computer Services Group.
Work with the New Jersey Lottery
Beginning in 1980, LaRossa began hosting the weekend drawings for the New Jersey Lottery, which were televised by New Jersey Network at the time. For the next eleven years, LaRossa would draw the nightly Pick-3 and Pick-4 games on Saturday and Sunday nights and also would substitute for weeknight host Hela Young on occasion. This helped make him what The New York Times described as "arguably one of the most recognizable faces in the state". A member of both the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Actors' Equity Association, LaRossa had a regular weekend gig as emcee and lead vocalist for an 18-piece swing band called the Lamplighters, billing himself as "the singing Senator".
LaRossa left the lottery in 1991 to challenge incumbent Senator Gerald R. Stockman. He won by a narrow 50.9%-49.1% margin to become the first Republican state senator to represent Trenton since 1946. LaRossa's victory came in a good year for New Jersey Republicans as they won both houses of the legislature easily.
LaRossa faced Stockman for a second time in 1993, as per the state constitution, with the incumbent receiving endorsements from the AFL-CIO, locals of the Communications Workers of America and the New Jersey State Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. LaRossa won reelection, this time by a margin of 52.3% to 47.7%, in a year that saw the Republicans not only retain their legislative majority but also win the gubernatorial election for the first time since 1985. LaRossa served in the Senate as Chair of the Urban Policy and Planning Committee and as a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Running for a third term in 1997, LaRossa was defeated by Democrat Shirley Turner. Although the Republicans managed to keep control of the legislature and the governorship, LaRossa was one of two Republican Senators to fall to defeat; John Scott in District 36 was the other. In the loss to Turner, LaRossa received 46.1% of the votes to Turner's 53.9%.
In the 1996 New Jersey Republican primary for U.S. Senate, LaRossa came in third with 12%, behind three-term Congressman Dick Zimmer who had 68% of the vote and Passaic County Freeholder Richard DuHaime with 19%.
- Gray, Jerry. "Television's 'Lottery Guy' Strives to Stay in Senate", The New York Times, September 4, 1992. Accessed June 24, 2010.
- "Senator Dick LaRossa". Archived from the original on February 5, 1997. Retrieved 2017-09-10., New Jersey Legislature. Accessed June 24, 2010.
- Sullivan, Joseph F. "'90 Tax Rise Overshadows Trenton Races", The New York Times, October 18, 1993. Accessed June 24, 2010.
- NJ Senate District 15 - History, OurCampaigns.com. Accessed June 24, 2010.
- via Associated Press. "ELECTION '97 / TWO INCUMBENTS FROM EACH PARTY LOSE IN SENATE", The Press of Atlantic City, November 5, 1997. Accessed June 24, 2010.
- Pulley, Brett. "U.S. Senate Race in New Jersey Narrows to Zimmer and Torricelli", The New York Times, June 5, 1996. Accessed June 24, 2010.