Bret Schundler rose to national prominence at the age of 33 by becoming the first Republican since World War I to be elected the Mayor of Jersey City, NJ - a city that is two-thirds Black, Hispanic and Asian, and only 6% Republican.
Through sweeping reforms to root out corruption, slash crime, and lower property taxes (including innovative policies that Time Magazine called "a national model for fiscal reform"), Bret was able to provide hope to a dispirited city, leading to his being re-elected in 1993 with 69% of the vote - the largest margin of victory for the office of Mayor in that city's history.
In his second and (following another landslide victory) third terms of office, Bret added to these successes with effective innovations in education, healthcare, and economic development. Indeed, the television program "20/20" highlighted one of his innovations as the very model of how government programs should be restructured in America. His first-in-the-nation government sponsored health savings accounts became a model for the federal government's sponsorship of such a program in its healthcare overhaul. And a Rutgers University study chronicled the fact that under his management, Jersey City went from leading the state in job losses to instead enjoying ten times the job growth of New Jersey's five other largest cities combined.
Bret's unprecedented achievements did not go un-noticed. The New York Times , The Washington Post , The Reader's Digest , and The Wall Street Journal are just a few of the national publications that have heralded them. Former Vice Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp called Bret "the gold standard of political leadership in America." Newt Gingrich called him "the most exciting Republican in the country." And Time Magazine has identified Bret as one of America's "New Generation of Leaders."
In 2001, Bret brought his record of performance and his vision of honest, effective reform to a greater forum and won a hard-fought grassroots campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor of New Jersey. Indeed, his Primary Election was featured as the best-run political campaign of the year by Campaign and Elections Magazine, and now, just as most modern Governors of New Jersey have run twice before succeeding, Bret is running for Governor again.
As the youngest of nine-children growing up in Woodbridge and Westfield, NJ, Bret learned the importance of hard-work and honesty. He was a solid student and an All-State football player in high school. This led to him being recruited by Harvard University, where to help pay for his tuition, Bret washed dishes, cleaned bathrooms and worked as a security guard.
Upon graduating with honors, and following a semester at the University of Haifa in Israel, Bret worked for a Democratic Congressman and for Gary Hart's presidential primary, and then embarked on a successful career in finance at Salomon Brothers and C. J. Lawrence.
His Democrat roots, his strong commitment to social justice, and his business background have enabled Bret to find effective "common ground" solutions to problems that almost everyone can get behind.
Bret is currently the Chairman of Empower the People, a citizens action organization that is working to help the people of New Jersey take back control of their government, and lives with his wife Lynn and their two children - daughter Shaylin and son Hans Otto III - in Jersey City.