The issue has stymied New Jersey politicians for decades. It’s taken more than 50 years of intense lobbying, sweat and tears. It has pitted lawmaker against lawmaker, governor against Legislature, North Jersey against South Jersey.
But three lawmakers from different corners of the state have hammered out a bipartisan deal that they hope will solve this longtime problem facing New Jersey:
Its lack of a state song.
State Sens. Michael Doherty (R-Warren), Richard Codey (D-Essex) and Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) — who have not always been in sync on the state song — came together last Monday to propose a bill that would create not one, but five different tunes New Jerseyans could officially call their own.
“I’ve been told from all the players involved that there seems to be a mutual agreement that these are going to move forward, so it’s positive,” Doherty said.
The first song listed in the bill is Red Mascara’s “I’m from New Jersey,” which would be the only one actually called the “state song.” Mascara, a 92-year-old Phillipsburg resident, has been lobbying in the Statehouse to make his song the state’s song since the early 1960s, and in 1972 saw it get as far as the desk of Gov. William Cahill, who vetoed it.
A rival song would be the “state anthem.” Another, with lyrics inspired by a class of Bridgewater fourth-graders nearly 20 years ago, would be the “state children’s song.” Another song would be the “state ballad.” And yet another one would be the “state popular song.”
Mascara’s effort has gotten a recent boost from a group of high school students. And there’s a documentary in the works about his struggle.
“People would say it’s not the best they’ve ever heard,” Sen. Dick Codey said of Mascara’s song. “But there’s a lot of sentiment that this guy has been at it for over 50 years. That in and of itself is Jersey spirit.”