It’s been 63 years

Conservative Republicans have not fared well in races for Governor or U.S. Senate in New Jersey: the last conservative to win statewide was Albert W. Hawkes, who was elected to the United States Senate in 1942. A Montclair businessman, the 64-year-old Hawkes was serving as the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when party leaders encouraged him to run against freshman Democratic Senator William Smathers; he just narrowly beat Gill Rob Wilson, a Trenton Minister and state Aviation Director, in the Republican primary, but easily ousted Smathers in the general election. After Governor Alfred Driscoll viewed Hawkes as too conservative and withdrew party support for his re-election bid in 1948. Hawkes declined to run (the seat went to State Treasurer Robert Hendrickson, a former Senate President and gubernatorial candidate) and returned to New Jersey to run his linoleum manufacturing business. He backed Ohio Senator Robert Taft for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination when the rest of the New Jersey GOP establishment (led by Christine Todd Whitman’s father, Webster Todd) backed General Dwight Eisenhower.

It’s been 63 years