If Gov. Jon Corzine picks TV reality star Randal Pinkett as the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, Pinkett will become the first African American to run statewide as a major party candidate in New Jersey. Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson sought the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1981 and 1985 without success.
The first Latino to run statewide was Robert Menendez, who was elected to the United States Senate in 2006. Corzine would get credit for advancing the candidacies of two minority candidates; he appointed Menendez to his Senate seat after his election as Governor in 2005.
But the selection of Dr. Pinkett would mean the rejection of two women reportedly on the short list for LG: State Senators Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) and Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck). New Jersey Democrats have not nominated a woman for statewide office since they picked 32-year-old Thelma Parkinson to run for a two-month unexpired term in the U.S. Senate in 1930. She lost to Republican Dwight Morrow (Charles Lindbergh’s father-in-law) by a 59%-39% margin.
Since Parkinson’s nomination, New Jersey Republicans have nominated a woman for statewide office five times. GOP gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie could make it six if he picks a woman to run for LG; reportedly, three of his four finalists are women.