New Jersey is the home of some of the nation's most prominent political personalities, such as black spokesman Kenneth Gibson and three congressional committee chairmen including Watergate hero Peter W. Rodino Jr.
Who, then, is the best known public official in the state?
Most opinion polls give that honor to Abe Beame, the outgoing mahyor of New York City, with Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo not far behind.
Analysts attribute that intriguing bit of trivia to New Jersey's "videovacuum." Although it is the eighth most populous state in the union, New Jersey is one of two states - Delaware is the other - that have no commericial television station.
Scholars and politicians here say that absence undermines the state's collective identity and leaves the public ill-informed about public affairs. New Jerseyans complain that the New York and Philadelphia stations picked up here give short shrift to New Jersey news.
Local politicans have tradionally to New Jersey news.
Local politicans have tradionally been relutant to advertise on TV - despite the medium's effectiveness - because the cost is great and most of the money is effectively wasted on out-of-state voters.
A prime-time half-minute on the New York stations can cost $5,000 or more. A New Jersey candidate who buys that time will be praying to reach far more voters in Connectiut and New York than in New Jersey.
New Jersey has petitioned the Frederal Communications Commission to give it a VHF (very high frequency) station of its own, citing a requirement in federal law that broadcast frequencies must be allocated "equitably . . . among the several states." The FCC has respond only with exhortations to the out-of-state broad-casters to cover New Jersey better.
For the year's election, New Jersey bit the bullet. When the state agreed to give gubernatorial candidates up to $1 million each in public campaign funds, it mandated that the money was to be used for advertising.
Officials here say that rule reflects the feelings that informing voters is the wisest use of the state's money. They say that the rule was alsodesigned so that state funds would not to be used for "street money," an election day tradition is some big city wards here.
The result has been a TV biltz never before seen here. Assuming that posters and bumper stickers would bring in fewer votes than 30-second spots, the two gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Brenden T. Bryne and GOP challenger Raymond II. Bate-man, have put nearly all of their state funds into television ads.
That has given the New York and Philadelphia broadcasters a $2 milliom windfall at New Jersey's expense. Meanwhile, both candidates continued to blast the stations for falling to provide New Jersey the kind of coverage it could have with a station ofits own.