In the old days, State Senators either moved up (often to a judgeship) or out. Of the Senators who have served since 1845, when a new State Constitution began elected one Senator from every county, only eleven men have spent more than twenty years in the Senate. Of those eleven, four are there now, and another two left within the last decade.
New Jersey's longest-serving State Senators, since 1845:
1. Wayne Dumont (R-Warren), 36 years, 1952-66, 1968-90. Dumont was first elected to the Senate in 1951, when he won a rematch of his 1947 Senate race with Democrat Robert Meyner, the Senate Minority Leader. Two years later, Meyner was elected Governor. Dumont unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for Governor in 1957 and 1961. He gave up his Senate seat to make a third bid for Governor in 1965; he won the primary but lost the general election (by a wide margin) to incumbent Richard Hughes. Dumont returned to the Senate after the 1967 election and remained in office until his resignation, for health reasons, in 1990.
2. Frank Farley (R-Atlantic), 31 years, 1941-72. Hap Farley was the longtime Republican boss of Atlantic County. He lost re-election in 1971 to Democrat Joseph McGahn.
3. (tied) Richard Codey (D-Essex), 28 years, 1982-date. Codey went to the Senate after Frank "Pat" Dodd left to run for Governor. He's spent fourteen years as the Senate Democratic leader – the longest leadership stint in state history – and spent fourteen months as Acting Governor. He served four terms in the State Assembly.
3. (tied) Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), 28 years, 1982 -date. After two years as an Assemblyman, Cardinale ousted incumbent Frank Herbert in a 1981 State Senate race. He ran for Governor in 1989 and for Congress in 2002, losing both times in the Republican primary.
3. (tied) Raymond Zane (R-Gloucester), 28 years, 1974-2002. Zane was elected as a Democrat in 1973, after GOP Senator James Turner was convicted of trying to frame Democratic Assemblyman Kenneth Gewertz by planting drugs in his home. About to lose the support of the Gloucester County Democratic organization, Zane switched parties in 2001 and narrowly lost his seat to Democrat Stephen Sweeney.
6. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), 27 years, 1982-date. Lesniak won a special election following the criminal conviction of Democrat John Gregorio. He sought another office once, losing a Democratic c primary for Mayor of Elizabeth to Thomas Dunn. He served a stint as Democratic State Chairman, and remains one of New Jersey's most powerful politicians.
7. Bill Gormley (R-Atlantic), 25 years, 1982-2007. Gormley went to the Senate after the incumbent, Stephen Perskie, resigned to become a Superior Court Judge. He spent a decade as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, and was the most influential South Jersey Republican since Hap Farley. He lost Republican primaries for Governor in 1989, Congress in 1994, and U.S. Senate in 2000.
8. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), 23 years, 1986-date. Rice won a 1986 special election after Democratic Sen. John Caufield died in office. He ran for Mayor of Newark in 2006 and won 25% of the vote against Cory Booker.
9. (tied) Richard Stout (R-Monmouth), 22 years, 1952-1974. Stout, for years the most powerful Republican in Monmouth County, lost his seat in the 1973 Watergate landslide to Democrat Herbert Buehler. He lost a bid for Congress against Democrat James Howard in 1968.
9. (tied) John A. Lynch (D-Middlesex), 22 years, 1956-1978. The former Mayor of New Brunswick retired from the Senate in 1978. Four years later, his son, also a New Brunswick Mayor, began his own 20-year stint in the Senate.