Senators don’t usually lose primaries

In New Jersey, incumbent United States Senators have rarely faced competitive primary challenges, and the only incumbent Senator to lose

In New Jersey, incumbent United States Senators have rarely faced competitive primary challenges, and the only incumbent Senator to lose a primary was Clifford Case, a four-term Republican who lost 50.7%-49.3% to conservative Jeffrey Bell, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign. Case had faced primary challenges from the right before: Robert Morris, who had been Chief Counsel for Senate Internal Security Subcommittee headed by Joseph McCarthy, won 33% in 1960; and James Walter Ralph, a Bergen County physician, received 30% in 1972.

In 1970, incumbent Harrison Williams faced a Democratic primary challenge from Frank Guarini, then a State Senator from Hudson County. Williams won 66%-34%; eight years later, Guarini was elected to Congress.

One of the fiercest primaries in state history was in 1924, when Republican National Committeeman Hamilton Kean challenged Walter Edge, a former Governor who was completing his first term in the Senate. Edge won, 57%-43%, and Kean went on to win an open seat four years later.

Senators don’t usually lose primaries