Frank Murkowski breaks Brendan Byrne’s record

Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski lost his bid for a second term when he finished third in the Republican primary with just 19% of the vote. Until yesterday, New Jersey’s Brendan Byrne held the record for the lowest vote percentage of an incumbent Governor seeking re-election in a primary. Byrne would have lost the primary had Democratic leaders united behind a single challenger; instead, ten Democrats joined the race and Byrne was able to win the June primary with 30% of the vote. He defeated Congressman Robert Roe (23%), former State Senator Ralph DeRose (17%), Congressman James Florio (15%), former state Commissioner of Labor (in Byrne’s cabinet) Joseph Hoffman (10%), State Senator Raymond Garramone (3%) and five others. Alaska also joins New Jersey as one of a few states that have defeated both a Governor and a United States Senator in primaries. New Jersey did it in 1978 when Clifford Case lost the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, nine years after Wiliam Cahill lost the Republican gubernatorial primary. Murkowski’s loss comes 26 years after U.S. Senator Mike Gravel was defeated in the Democratic primary. Ironically, Murkowski won Gravel’s Senate seat in the general election that year.

Frank Murkowski breaks Brendan Byrne’s record