The N.J. Senate as a stepping stone

If you are a New Jersey State Senator, you are more likely to die in office than to win higher elective office. Under the current State Constitution, 48 sitting State Senators have asked voters to promote them to a new office, but only eleven have won.

Nearly half of the State Senators seeking higher office have run for Governor and all 21 have lost: Malcolm Forbes (1957), Wayne Dumont (1965), Raymond Bateman (1977) and James E. McGreevey (1997) won major party nominations but list the general election — each time to an incumbent; William Schluter ran as an Independent in 2001; and Walter Jones (1961), Charles Sandman (1965), William Kelly (1969), Frank McDermott (1969), William Ozzard (1969), Harry Sears (1969), Ralph DeRose (1973), Raymond Garramone (1977), Frank Dodd (1981), William Hamilton (1981), Joseph Merlino (1981), James Wallwork (1981), Bill Gormley (1989) and Gerald Cardinale (1989).

Edward Crabiel gave up his Senate seat to run in 1973 but withdrew when some party leaders decided to back Brendan Byrne. In 2001, Donald DiFrancesco dropped his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

All seven State Senators who have run for the United States Senate have lost: Frank Guarini, in 1970 Democratic primary against Harrison Williams; Dick LaRossa (1996), Bill Gormley (2000), Diane Allen (2002) , John Matheussen (2002), Thomas Kean, Jr. (2006), and Joseph Pennacchio (2008).

Twelve of the seventeen sitting State Senators who have run for Congress have won: Sandman (1966), John Hunt (1966), Edwin Forsythe (1970), Joseph Maraziti (1972), Matthew Rinaldo (1992), Bernard Dwyer (1980), James Saxton (1984), Frank Pallone (1988), Richard Zimmer (1990), Robert Menendez (1992), John Adler (2008), and Leonard Lance (2008). Five have lost House bids: Richard Stout (1968), Joseph Kyrillos (1992), Gormley (1994), John Bennett (1996), and Cardinale (2002).

Three incumbent State Senators have unsuccessfully sought office in Bergen County: Matthew Feldman (1986) and Hank McNamara (2002) ran for County Executive, and Harold Hollenbeck (1973) ran for Freeholder. Three Senators have lost bids for Mayor of Newark: Alexander Matturi (1970), Anthony Imperiale (1974), and Ronald Rice (1998). Frank Graves was elected Mayor of Paterson in 1982, a post he had previously held from 1961 to 1966.

Thirteen Senators have died in office — one more than the number who have won higher office: Raymond Bowkley, John Caufield, Robert Crane, Glenn Cunningham, John Dimon, Walter Foran, Garrett Hagedorn, William Haines, Joseph Hirkala, Christopher Jackman, Wynona Lipman, Edward Sisco and Howard Sharp. Two others, Byron Baer and Wayne Dumont, resigned for health reasons.

Another five Senators were terminated following their criminal convictions: Angelo Errichetti, David Friedland, John Gregorio, William Vincent Musto, and James Turner.

Editor’s Note: Gormley is counted once, although he has sought higher office three times; Cardinale, who ran twice, is also counted once. Senators who sought re-election to posts they had held prior to running for the Senate are not counted at all. These numbers do not include higher offices sought be individuals prior to their election to the New Jersey Senate, such as Bob Smith’s 1992 House campaign or Loretta Weinberg’s 1998 bid for Bergen County Executive.

The N.J. Senate as a stepping stone