Retired Judge Paul R. Porreca (1935-2020) was our featured speaker at our February Fundraiser at the Irish Pub in 2018. There he explained how he his years of experience as a judge in criminal court changed him from an idealistic John F. Kennedy Democrat in the 1960’s to a Constitutional Conservative by the time he retired. (Photo by ACPrimetime.com and DownbeachBuzz.com)Paul Porreca was elected to the Millville City Commission in 1960 as 25 year old lawyer, just starting out. Two years later, he ran for Congress, and was only narrowly defeated by the incumbent Republican Congressman backed by the powerful Frank “Hap” Farley organization.
United Auto Workers Union President Walter Reuther shakes the hand of President John F. Kennedy when he landed at Bader Field in May of 1962. Kennedy came to speak at the UAW national convention at Atlantic City’s Convention Hall on the Boardwalk. To the right of Reuther is New Jersey Gov. Richard J. Hughes. To the right of Hughes is 27 year old Paul Porreca.
Porreca left Millville City government in 1965 and worked full time as a lawyer and raising a family. He was active in the development of many well known businesses in Cumberland County.
In 1971, Porreca ran for State Senate as a Democrat in a district then made up of Republican Cape May County and Democratic Cumberland County. Although Porreca outpolled his Democratic running mates in Cumberland County by 3,000 votes, he could not offset the enormous GOP majority in Cape May County, and lost by 916 votes. South Jersey Republicans were more than happy to remove Democrat Porreca from politics by making him a Superior Court Judge in 1972. Porreca served on the bench for the next 21 years where he became Presiding Judge of the Criminal Court. After that he was frequently called back from retirement to clear case backlogs.
During those years, Porreca evolved into a Constitutional conservative. When he finally left the bench, he became an active Republican and hosted a talk-radio program on WVLT 92.1 called “Uncommon Sense” . He also became a farmer, actively cultivating 200 acres.
When Liberty and Prosperity was formed in 2003, Paul Porreca was one of the first to attend our breakfast meetings. He was an active member and generous donor ever since. His wife Maria died last year. Paul Porreca leaves four children and seven grandchildren. We will miss him.