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New Jersey’s presidential candidates

By David Wildstein, October 07 2018 2:14 pm


Cory Booker
 would be the fifth New Jerseyan to actively seek a major party presidential nomination since Woodrow Wilson won in 1912, if he decides to enter the 2020 race.

Gov. Chris Christie ran in 2016, losing badly.  He did not compete in Iowa, finishing tenth with just 1.76% of the vote, and dropped out the day after he placed sixth in the New Hampshire primary.  He won just 7.4% of the vote there, despite winning the endorsement of the influential Manchester Union Leader.

Bill Bradley, who has represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997, ran for president in 2000.  Bradley lost Iowa 63%-37%, and his campaign essentially ended when Al Gore beat him in New Hampshire by a 50%-46% margin.  Bradley’s high point was 43% in Vermont and he dropped out after Super Tuesday.

Magazine publisher Steve Forbes sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and again in 2000.  He won primaries in Delaware and Arizona, but withdrew in March after Bob Dole clinched the nomination.  Four years later, Forbes lasted a month less.  He finished a strong second in Iowa, but his campaign fizzled out when John McCain emerged as the leading challenger to front runner George W. Bush.

Gov. Robert Meyner sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960, although those were different times and he never formally announced his candidacy.  He teamed up with Lyndon Johnson in a bid to block John F. Kennedy, hoping that he might secure the nomination on a later ballot.  Kennedy won a first ballot victory, and he never forgave Meyner for blocking the New Jersey delegates from voting form him.”

A sixth New Jerseyan, U.S. Sen. Clifford Case, was a favorite-son candidate for president in 1968.  He received 22 votes at the Republican National Convention, where the New Jersey delegation split and gave some of their votes to Richard Nixon on the first ballot.  Case was never a real presidential contender.

For extreme political junkies: besides Wilson, the closest a New Jerseyan ever got to the presidency was Garret Hobart, a former State Senate President from Paterson.  He was elected Vice President on a ticket with William McKinley in 1896, but he died in 1899. Otherwise, Hobart would have become president when McKinley was assassinated in 1901 and not his successor, Theodore Roosevelt.

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