John Bennett first went to Trenton in 1979, when he won a State Assembly seat against Walter Kozkowski, a young three-term Democrat with serious health issues (he died three weeks after Bennett defeated him.) Over the next 24 years, Bennett won four more terms in the Assembly and then five terms in the State Senate with relative ease. If not for ethical questions raised after the Asbury Park Press discovered that he had overbilled the Township of Marlboro $4,000 in legal fees, Bennett would have been secure in his bid for re-election in 2003. Some observers believe that had Bennett not been forced to spend $1 million defending his own seat, the money would have helped George Geist overcome a 63 vote deficit against Democrat Frederick Madden in the fourth district — keeping the Senate split at 20-20 for the next four years. When James E. McGreevey announced that his resignation the following summer, Bennett and Richard Codey would both have been in line to become Acting Governor.