Before Frank Blee lost to Sonny McCullough, who was the last sitting Assemblyman to lose a Special Election for the State Senate? It was Paul DiGaetano, who lost a March 24, 1987 Special Election for State Senator to Democrat Gabriel Ambrosio. DiGaetano had been elected to the Assembly in 1985, and tried to move up to the Senate after veteran Democratic Senator Joseph Hirkala passed away. Bergen Republicans had swept the 1986 elections four months earlier, winning the County Executive post and all seven Freeholder seats, but DiGaetano (who was also a Passaic City Councilman) was soundly defeated. Still upset over his loss, he declined to run for re-election to the Assembly in 1987. He lost a bid to return in 1989, but won in 1991. The 1987 Special Election was the first of four times when the Bergen County Republican Organization Men’s Club passed over Kathleen Donovan to nominate someone who eventually lost a general election to the Democrats. Donovan wanted to run in the 1987 Special — she had outpolled DiGaetano in ’85 when they ousted six-term incumbent Democrat Richard Visotcky and Robert Hollenbeck — but the Bergen Boys picked DiGaetano. By the time she ran for the Senate in November, Ambrosio already had incumbency on his side. Donovan, elected County Clerk in 1988, sough the GOP nomination for Bergen County Executive in 2002 — but the local powers decided State Senator Henry McNamara would be their candidate. After a lackluster campaign — and a massive spending frenzy by Bergen Democrats — McNamara lost to Dennis McNerney by 10,000 votes. In 2003, Donovan had agreed to run for State Senate against Paul Sarlo, who had won the post in a Special Election Convention after Garry Furnari resigned. But the Bergen Boys — pushed by DiGaetano and then-Senate Co-President John Bennett — instead picked John Kelly, a 77-year-old former Assemblyman who had lost to Furnari two years earlier. Sarlo won easily. Donovan made a second bid for County Executive in 2006, but the BCRO decided to back Todd Caliguire, a former Freeholder. Caliguire narrowly won the primary, and got smashed by McNerney in a campaign picked by PoliticsNJ.com as the worst of the year. For extreme political junkies: If Donovan had won the State Senate seat in 1987 — could the three-term Senator from South Bergen have beaten Bob Torricelli for Congress in the 1994 Republican landslide?