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It’s 8 PM and the polls are supposed to be closing

On the election night that never happened, a look back at the June 2, 1970 primary election

By David Wildstein, June 02 2020 8:00 pm

It’s 8 PM and I’m supposed to say that the polls are now closed in New Jersey, even in Cedar Grove.

The primary election was supposed to be today, but in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it was postponed until July 7.  It’s the first time in 19 years that the primary wasn’t held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June.

For those who are nostalgic and miss election night, the New Jersey Globe is going back 50 years to report the results of the primary election held on June 2, 1970.

* U.S. Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr. was renominated for a third term after facing a Democratic primary challenge from State Sen. Frank Guarini (D-Jersey City).  Williams won 66%-34%, carrying 20 of 21 counties.  Guarini beat Williams in Hudson by 16,194 votes, 62%-38%).

* Republican State Chairman Nelson Gross won the GOP primary by a 65%-19% margin against James A. Quaremba.  Joseph Gavin finished third with 16%.  Gross won 19 counties, with Gavin carrying Cumberland and Hunterdon.

* In the 2nd district, William J. Hughes, a former assistant prosecutor in Cape May, won the Democratic nomination to take on Rep. Charles Sandman (R-Erma).  Hughes won 61% of the vote against Charles Yeager (29%) and Sam Costello (10%).

The two best races in the state came in the 6th and 15th congressional districts.

The sixth included Burlington County and parts of Camden and Ocean counties and was for the seat left vacant when Rep. William T. Cahill (R-Collingswood) resigned to become the governor of New Jersey.

Two well-known Burlington Republicans faced off in the primary: State Sen. Edwin B. Forsythe (R-Moorestown) and Assemblyman Walter Smith (R-Cinnaminson).

Forsythe, a former Senate President, defeated Smith in two primaries that day: one for the remaining fourteen months of Cahill’s term – the special election would be in November – and one for the full two-year term.

Burlington Republicans gave their line to Smith, but Forsythe had the lines in Camden and Ocean.

He beat Smith by 3,201 votes (52%-43%) for the full term.  Smith won Burlington by 1,951 votes (55%-43%); Forsythe won Camden by 1,809 (60%-31%), and Ocean by 3,343 (59%-34%).

The Democratic primary was won by Assemblyman Charles B. Yates (D-Edgewater Park).  For extreme junkies: Smith later won Forysthe’s State Senate seat, and his son, Bradford Smith, later served as a Burlington County freeholder and state senator.

In the 15th, which included most of Middlesex County, four-term Rep. Edward Patten (D-Perth Amboy_ faced a strong Democratic primary challenger: Lewis Kaden, a 28-year-old Harvard Law School graduate who had served on Robert Kennedy’s U.S. Senate staff.

Kaden, fervently opposed to the war in Vietnam, came at Patten from the left, pulling in student volunteers from Rutgers and Princeton and capitalizing on opposition to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia a month before the Democratic primary.  He filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that organization lines were unconstitutional, but his case was dismissed.

The grass-roots Kaden campaign reportedly knocked on 100,000 doors but couldn’t compete with the strength of the Middlesex County Democratic organization.  Patten won by a margin of 12,023 votes, 66%-34%.

Kaden didn’t do so badly: he worked for Gov. Brendan Byrne and later became vice chairman of Citigroup.

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