New Jersey State Senators who ran as Independents

In 1977, two New Jersey State Senators sought re-election as Independents after losing the support of their party. Joseph McGahn, a physician whose place in New Jersey political history was secured when he ousted the legendary Senator (and Atlantic County GOP boss) Frank “Hap” Farley in 1971, was dumped from the Atlantic County Democratic line. McGahn lost to the Democratic nominee, Assemblyman Steven Perskie, who went on to serve as Senate Majority Leader, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chairman of the Casino Control Commission, and two tours of duty as a Superior Court Judge. Thomas Dunn, the Mayor of Elizabeth, lost the backing of Union County Democrats for a second term in the Senate. He lost to Assemblyman John Gregorio, the Mayor of Linden. Gregorio left the Senate after his criminal conviction in 1982, and returned to public life as the Mayor of Linden after then-Governor Thomas Kean pardoned him on his final day in office in January 1990. A third incument Senator running as an Independent was Anthony Imperiale, who like McGahn, Perskie, Dunn and Gregorio, has a place in state political history. Imperiale won national attention as a North Ward community leader and vigilante during the 1966 Newark riots. He won a City Council seat in 1970, and running as an Independet, was elected to the State Assembly in 1971 and to the Senate in 1973. Imperiale forced Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson into a runoff in 1974, but lost his Senate seat in 1977 to Frank Rodgers, who served as Mayor of Harrison for fifty years. Imperiale made a comeback in 1979, winning an Assembly seat as a Republican (he defeated three-term incumbent John Cali), but gave up his seat two years later to make an unsuccessful run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

New Jersey State Senators who ran as Independents