Home>Presidential Election>Kennedy demolished Carter in New Jersey

Left to right: Rep. Peter Rodino (D-Newark), U.S. Senator Harrison Williams, Gov. Brendan Byrne, and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. Ace Alagna collection courtesy of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, Seton Hall University Libraries, South Orange.

Kennedy demolished Carter in New Jersey

Against incumbent President, Kennedy won 19 counties

By David Wildstein, February 15 2021 12:18 am

The final day of the race for the race for the 1980 Democratic nomination came down to New Jersey and seven other states as Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy battled for delegates in a rare bid to deny a sitting president his party’s nomination for re-election.

Over 617,000 Democrats voted in the June 3 New Jersey primary, breaking the turnout record set four years earlier with 575,000.

Kennedy defeated Carter in New Jersey by 102,722 votes, a 56%-38% margin, in the June 3 New Jersey primary.  That gave Kennedy 68 delegates from New Jersey, with 45 for Carter.

In a campaign managed by the late Fran Rein, Massachusetts Senator carried 19 counties.  He won Bergen by a 2-1 margin and Essex by over 20,000 votes, and Hudson by 625.  Carter won Cape May by seven votes and Salem by 198.

U.S. Senator Harrison Williams was for Kennedy, while Gov. Brendan Byrne was a Carter supporter.   Kennedy supporters included Essex County Executive Peter Shapiro, Newark Councilman Sharpe James, Bergen County Freeholder Jeremiah O’Connor, and Assemblyman Richard Van Wagner (D-Middletown).

Rep. James Howard (D-Spring Lake Heights) was the chairman of the Kennedy delegation to the Democratic National Convention, and Assemblywoman Barbara McConnell (D-Flemington) was vice chair.

In addition to New Jersey, Kennedy won California, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.  Carter won Ohio, Montana, and West Virginia in a narrow win for renomination.

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