If Joe Pennacchio wins his race for the United States Senate, he would become the first sitting State Senator to go directly to the U.S. Senate since William Smathers ousted Hamilton Kean in 1936. Smathers was elected to the State Senate from Atlantic County in 1935 and went on to unseat the one-term incumbent, whose great-grandson, Thomas Kean, Jr., is now the State Senate Minority Leader.
The last incumbent State Senator to win a statewide U.S. Senate primary was Kean, Jr. in 2006, and before that, William Ely, a Bergen County Democrat who lost an open U.S. Senate race in 1938. The rest, including Alexander Menza (1978), Dick LaRossa (1996), Bill Gormley (2000), Diane Allen and John Matheussen (2002).
Smathers served just one term in the U.S. Senate before losing re-election in 1942. His nephew, George Smathers, served three terms as a Democratic U.S. Senator from Florida.
One more if Pennacchio wins: look for freshman Assemblyman Jay Webber to have an easy time moving up to the State Senate.