When Gerald Ford decided to run for a full term as President in 1976, he picked Thomas Kean, the Assembly Minority Leader and the son of a former colleague (Robert W. Kean served with Ford in the House from 1949 to 1959( to run his New Jersey campaign operation. In his contest for the Republican nomination with Ronald Reagan, Ford won every New Jersey delegate. (Reagan opted not to run in the New Jersey primary, and a group of his supporters ran for Delegate under the “Former California Governor” banner. One New Jersey delegate, Thomas Bruinooge of Bergen County, wound up voting for Reagan.) In the general election, Ford won New Jersey over Jimmy Carter by a 65,035 vote margin. Five years later, Ford returned the favor when he endorsed Kean, who was one of eight candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The former President traveled to New Jersey on April 2 to campaign for Kean and headline a fundraiser on his behalf. Former Presidents rarely become involved in contested primaries; Dwight Eisenhower declined to support his former Secretary of Labor, James Mitchell, until after he won the 1961 gubernatorial primary.