As he prepares to launch his bid for a second term, Governor Jon Corzine will seek to become the first Democrat not named Frank Lautenberg to win re-election in New Jersey since Bill Bradley just narrowly defeated Christine Todd Whitman in a U.S. Senate race nineteen years ago.
Lautenberg’s victory over Republican Dick Zimmer last year ended a fourteen-year drought for Democratic incumbents winning re-election. The last time was in 1994, when Lautenberg beat Republican Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian, the Assembly Speaker. During the subsequent fourteen years, no Democratic statewide officeholder was re-elected to a second term.
Republicans are looking to end twelve-year drought; they haven’t won statewide since Whitman was re-elected Governor in 1997. Since that election, Republican statewide candidates have been victorious in 49 other states, as well as in Puerto Rico and Guam.
Only one incumbent Governor has been defeated in a general election: James Florio, against Whitman in 1993. And in state political history, only one sitting Governor has lost a primary: William Cahill in 1973. But that history doesn’t go back all that far – until a change in the State Constitution in 1947, Governors served a three-year term and were to seek re-election.