President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law 84 years ago on August 14, 1935 with the support of most of New Jersey’s congressional delegation.
The House passed the bill on April 19 by a vote of 372 to 33.
Two of the no votes came from New Jersey congressmen: Donald McLean (R-Elizabeth) and Randolph Perkins (R-Woodcliff Lake).
The other twelve members of the House delegation, eight Republicans and four Democrats, voted yes.
New Jersey’s senators split when the Senate passed approved the Social Security Act on June 19 by a vote of 77-6.
Republican W. Warren Barbour voted yes, and Democrat A. Harry Moore, a former and future governor and top ally of Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague, voted no.
Votes for and against Social Security had little effect on the next election, which was influenced more by Roosevelt carrying New Jersey by 20 percentage points against Alfred E. Landon.
McLean was re-elected to the Union County seat by a narrow 1,174 votes, 50%-49%, against Democrat Frank Moore, the superintendent of the Rahway State Prison. Perkins died from a kidney infection the following year at age 64 and Republicans held his seat by more than 5,000 votes (54%).
Four incumbents who voted yes on Social Security lost their seats – three Republicans and a Democrat. Rep. Fred Hartley (R-Kearny), who gained immortality as the sponsor of the Taft-Hartley Act, was re-elected by just 845 votes, 50.2%-49.6%, against Bloomfield Councilman Lindsay Rudd.
The defeat of Rep. Frederick Lehlbach (R-Newark) by 325 votes against Democrat Frank Towey opened the door to Robert Kean, the father of the future governor, wining a House seat in 1938.
Barbour lost his Senate seat by 176,326 votes, 55%-44%, against State Sen. William Smathers (D-Atlantic City). Barbour is the last incumbent U.S. Senator from New Jersey to lose a general election.