The curse of the legislator

Legend has it that many State Senators view themselves as gubernatorial material, but historically incumbent New Jersey legislators are often unsuccessful in their campaigns for Governor. Over the last fifty years, only four incumbent legislators — State Senators Malcolm Forbes (1957), Wayne Dumont (1965), Raymond Bateman (1977) and James E. McGreevey (1997) — have won gubernatorial primaries, and all four have their general elections. The last time someone went directly from the Legislature to Governor was in 1928, when Morgan Larson, a Republican State Senator from Middlesex County, won. Sitting legislators to lose gubernatorial primaries: Alan Karcher, Chuck Hardwick, William Gormley and Gerald Cardinale in 1989; John Russo in 1985; Frank Dodd, William Hamilton, Joseph Merlino, Barry Parker, James Wallwork, and Anthony Imperiale in 1981; Thomas Kean and Raymond Garramone in 1977; Ralph DeRose and Ann Klein in 1973; Harry Sears, Frank McDermott and William Kelly in 1969; Charles Sandman in 1965; and Walter Jones in 1961. While it has been 75 years since an incumbent legislator became Governor, seven of the last ten Governors had served in the Legislature.

The curse of the legislator