Home>Campaigns>How did candidates with N.J. ties do in other states?

Former astronauts Mark Kelly, right, and Scott Kelly flank Essex County Commissioner Pat Sebold at the dedication of the Kelly Elementary School in West Orange in 2016. Sebold was Mark Kelly's English teacher at West Orange High School. (Photo: Pat Sebold via Facebook).

How did candidates with N.J. ties do in other states?

Cliffside Park and Hightstown men lose in Pennsylvania; West Orange man wins in Arizona; Verona man in runoff for U.S. Senate seat in Georgia

By David Wildstein, November 16 2022 10:57 am

More New Jerseyans running for office in other states in 2022 won than lost, including two Jersey guys running for statewide office in Pennsylvania, with the eyes of the nation on a Georgia runoff next month where a Verona man will compete in a race for  the United States Senate.

Hershel Walker lived in Verona from 1983 to 1985 while playing for the New Jersey Generals, a USFL team owned at the time by Donald Trump.  He continued to own his apartment at the Claridge House on Pompton Avenue until around 1995, after an NFL career took him to the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and in 1995, with the New York Giants.

In last week’s election, Walker trails Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock by one percentage point, 49.44% to 48.49%, but state law requires a runoff if no candidate hits 50%.

Mehmet Oz of Cliffside Park in the U.S. Senate race and Doug Mastriano of Hightstown, who ran for governor were unsuccessful.

Now Oz can return his home in Bergen County – he is still registered to vote there – but for people like who think he could run in New Jersey, remember that the State Constitution has a seven-year residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates and Oz’s clock would likely need to be reset upon his return.  U.S. Senator-elect John Fetterman made Oz’s New Jersey residency a focal point of his successful campaign.

While Mastriano remained on the voter rolls in New Jersey until 2021, he had not voted in the state since 2010.

West Orange native Mark Kelly was re-elected to represent Arizona in the United States Senate, prevailing in a close race with Republican Blake Masters.

But Cheri Beasley, who lived in New Brunswick for four years while attending Rutgers, lost her U.S. Senate bid in North Carolina.  She had previously served as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Rep.-elect Mike Lawler who unseated Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, will essentially be New Jersey’s 13th congressman.  Lawler can pull out of the driveway of his Rockland County home and be in Bergen County in about four minutes.

Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro has some ties to New Jersey: he worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Bob Torricelli in the 1990s.

New Jerseyan Matt Mowers, who grew up in East Brunswick and worked for Gov. Chris Christie, moved to New Hampshire to become executive director of the state GOP and then state director of Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign there.  After Christie lost — he won just 7% of the vote — Mowers moved home to New Jersey and voted in a second primary that year.  He returned to New Hampshire  take on Pappas in 2020, lost, and this week lost a bid for a rematch in  the Republican primary.

Six House members from other states who grew up in New Jersey were re-elected:

* Abigail Spanberger, a two-term Democrat from Virginia who spent part of her childhood in Red Bank, was re-elected with 52% of the vote in a tough race.  She is a close friend of Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair); the two share a Capitol Hill apartment when they are in Washington.

* Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx Democrat who ousted a longtime incumbent in a primary two years ago, played football for Sayreville War Memorial High School.

*Seven-term Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes grew up in Pennington and graduated from Hopewell Valley Central High School.

* Darren Soto, who won a Florida congressional seat in 2018, is from Ringwood and attended Lakeland Regional High School.

Scott Peters, a California Democrat who has been in Congress for ten years, is a graduate of Westfield High School.

* North Carolina Democrat Alma Adams, a congresswoman since 2014, graduated from West Side High School in Newark.

But in a South Florida district, State Sen. Annette Taddeo a Jersey Girl by blood, lost her bid to unseat freshman Rep. María Elvira Salazar by fifteen percentage points.

Taddeo’s father, Anthony, was born and raised in Orange and served in World War II and Korea.  He later moved to Columbia, where his daughter was born.  Her aunt was the school secretary in Mark Kelly’s West Orange school.

Stefan Pryor, who served as deputy mayor under Cory Booker from 2006 to 2011, lost the Democratic primary for Rhode Island State Treasurer this week.  Pryor spent four years as Connecticut Commissioner of Education before becoming Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce in 2015.

Three other U.S. Senators also have New Jersey ties: Ted Cruz (Texas) and Jeff Merkley (Oregon) attended Princeton University, and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) is a Rutgers Law School graduate.

First Lady Jill Biden was born in Hammonton, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff grew up in Old Bridge and attended Hebrew school at Temple Shalom in Matawan.  Two men who were born in Trenton, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, Jr., served together on the U.S. Supreme Court for a decade.

Two of New Jersey’s last three governors were Garden State immigrants: Jon Corine grew up in Illinois, and Phil Murphy in Massachusetts.   (Murphy and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker were classmates at Needham High School.)

Bill Bradley grew up in Missouri and moved to New Jersey to attend Princeton University.  He lived in Denville while playing for the New York Knicks and stayed in the state to run for the U.S. Senate in 1978.   Clifford Case, whose bid for a fifth term was cut short in 1978 when he lost the Republican primary, grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York.

In the state’s congressional delegation, only one – Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) – didn’t grown up in New Jersey.  Sherill is from Northern Virginia and moved to the state.

New Jersey’s most prominent modern-day carpetbagger story was in 1988 when Republicans recruited Pete Dawkins, a retired U.S. Army General and Heisman Trophy winner at West Point,  to move to New Jersey to run against freshman Democrat Frank Lautenberg.

Lautenberg, the founder of Automated Data Processing (ADP)  had been a bit of an upset winner in 1982 when he became one of the early self-funders in a New Jersey statewide election, spending about $5 million of his own money.   He beat two former congressmen and seven other candidates in the Democratic primary, and then defeated the fabled Rep. Millicent Fenwick (R-Bernardsville) in the general election by a 51%-48% margin.

The GOP thought they could beat the 64-year-old Lautenberg in 1988.  New Jersey had gone Republican in five consecutive presidential elections and Tom Kean was re-elected governor in 1985 with 70% of the vote.

The early favorite to run against Lautenberg was Leonard Coleman, 39, Kean’s Commissioner of Community Affairs and the first Black to score a touchdown as a member of the Princeton University football team.  Coleman had spent a couple of years preparing for a Senate campaign against his fellow Montclair resident.

At the time, Dawkins was an investment banker living in Manhattan.  New York Republicans had touted him as a potential gubernatorial candidate against Mario Cuomo in 1987 or for Senate against Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1988.

New Jersey Republicans first caught a glimpse of Dawkins in 1986 when he attended a fundraiser at the Rumson home of GOP insider Lawrence Bathgate for the political action committee that was helping Vice President George Bush in his pursuit of the 1988 GOP presidential nomination.

The idea of Dawkins running against Lautenberg was the idea of Greg Stevens, Kean’s former chief of staff and top political advisor.  Stevens had left the Kean administration and was working at the Washington, D.C. lobbying and political consulting firm of Black, Manafort and Stone.

Dawkins met with Kean in early 1987 and essentially cleared the field.  Coleman was told he wasn’t running – six years later he got a better job as president of Major League Baseball’s National League – and Dawkins, then 49, left his post as a managing director of Shearson Lehman Brothers and bought a house in Rumson.

Dawkins had a great story: he eschewed an NFL career to go to Oxford, and then received two Bronze Stars for his service commanding infantry divisions in Vietnam.  He appeared on the cover of Life Magazine in uniform and served as a White House fellow.  Dawkins spent 24 years in the army, serving at the Pentagon and retiring as a brigadier general.

“Pete Dawkins is the biggest thing to hit New Jersey since Bill Bradley,” Roger Stone, one of his political consultants, told political columnist Tom Hester.

The race pitted Stone against Lautenberg’s consultants, James Carville and Paul Begala.

As a first-time candidate, Dawkins had a series of missteps.

When he said, “I’d blow my brains out if I had to live in a small town,” Lautenberg pounced.

Lautenberg slammed Dawkins for being a carpetbagger, linked Dawkins to pollution at a California army base, and called him a phony.  A magazine story titled, “Pete Dawkins and The Art of Failing Upward” didn’t help.

“Come on Pete, be real,” became a tagline of Lautenberg’s TV ads.

Dawkins called Lautenberg a “swamp dog.”

New Jersey voters split their ticket in 1988.

Bush carried New Jersey by 422,839 votes, a 56%-42% win against Michael Dukakis.  Lautenberg beat Dawkins by 249,968 votes, 54%-45%.


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