If Rick Merkt and Chris Christie both wind up in the race for the 2009 Republican nomination for Governor, it will be the first time in 28 years that two former running mates and two candidates from the same small town compete in a statewide primary. Merkt and Christie, who live in Mendham, ran as a team in the 1995 State Assembly primary in District 25; they lost to incumbent Anthony Bucco and newcomer Michael Patrick Carroll, who was seeking the open seat of retiring Assemblyman Arthur Albohn. Merkt went to the Assembly two years later when Bucco ran for the State Senate.
The 1981 Republican gubernatorial primary featured two ex-running mates: Thomas Kean, the former Assembly Speaker, and State Sen. James Wallwork. Kean and Wallwork represented the old 25th district, which in those days included parts of Essex, Morris and Passaic counties; they had run together in 1967, 1971 and 1973. Wallwork was from Short Hills, as was another candidate in the ’81 primary, Richard McGlynn, a former Judge and Board of Public Utilities Commissioner.