In New Jersey, governors don’t win on their first try, and parties don’t win three in a row

If Jon Corzine wins re-election, it will be the first time since 1961 that any political party has won three consecutive races for Governor of New Jersey. If Christopher Christie wins, he will become the first Governor to win his first statewide campaign since 1973.

Republicans won in 1946 and 1949, Democrats in 1953, 1957, 1961 and 1965, Republicans in 1969, Democrats in 1973 and 1977, Republicans in 1981 and 1985, Democrats in 1989, Republicans in 1993 and 1997, and Democrats in 2001 and 2005.

Since Brendan Byrne won in 1973 – his first bid for public office — future Governors had made prior statewide bids: Thomas Kean lost a 1977 GOP gubernatorial primary before winning in 1981; Jim Florio was elected in 1989 after losing the 1977 Democratic primary and the 1981 general election; Christine Todd Whitman lost a race for U.S. Senate three years before winning the 1993 gubernatorial campaign; James E. McGreevey lost to Whitman in 1997 and won in 2001; and Corzine had run successfully for the U.S. Senate before running for Governor.

While winning gubernatorial candidates have often experienced previous losses in statewide races, the same rule does not apply for United States Senators. Indeed, the last seven U.S. Senators had never run statewide before they were elected. The last was Robert Hendrickson, who lost his 1940 bid for Governor and won a U.S. Senate seat in 1948.

In New Jersey, governors don’t win on their first try, and parties don’t win three in a row