Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Could Cory Booker Oust Frank Lautenberg?

Bookmark and Share

Only 1 of 25 New Jersey U.S. Senate incumbents have lost their renomination bids since the state's first direct election in 1916

corybooker10.jpgWhile it has been the Republican Party that has been producing high-profile intraparty battles involving seasoned U.S. Senate incumbents in recent election cycles - such as Dick Lugar (Indiana) and Bob Bennett (Utah) - the Democratic Party might be hosting an interesting Senate primary in its own right in 2014.

On Thursday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced he would not be challenging Republican Governor Chris Christie in 2013 but would instead explore a run for the state's U.S. Senate seat to be held one year later.

That seat is currently held by Democrat Frank Lautenberg who would be 90 years old on Election Day 2014, but has not yet given any clear indication that he will retire.

And so, while many of the successful primary challenges on the GOP side of the aisle have been based on ideological campaigns, for Booker it appears to be due to political timing.

For Booker, now may be the best opportunity to upgrade his political resume - and attempt to politically cash in on his 'rising star' status within the party that he has built through frequent guest appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher in recent years and a rousing speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

However, in order to make it onto the general election ballot it appears - for the moment - Booker will need to defeat Lautenberg first.

Not only is Lautenberg well-positioned financially to put up a strong fight against any potential Democratic challenger, but Booker would be trying to accomplish something that has been a rarity in New Jersey politics.

A Smart Politics analysis of New Jersey election data finds that 24 of the 25 New Jersey U.S. Senate incumbents who ran for reelection have won their party's nomination since the state's first direct election in 1916.

Over the past 96 years, the only incumbent Senator to get upended in a Garden State primary was four-term Republican Clifford Case in 1978.

After narrowly holding the open seat for the GOP in 1954 by a margin of just 3,370 votes over Charles Howell, Case cruised to reelection victories in 1960 (by 12.5 points), 1966 (23.0 points), and 1972 (28.0 points).

In 1978, however, Case was narrowly defeated in the Republican primary by Jeffrey Bell, a Reaganesque conservative. (Bell would go on to lose in the general election to Democrat Bill Bradley).

During the other 24 cycles in which an incumbent from New Jersey ran for reelection, the Senator won their party's nomination - including all 13 Democrats since 1916.

New Jersey U.S. Senate Incumbent Renomination Bids, 1916-2012

Incumbent
Party
Year
Result
James Martine
Democrat
1916
Won
Joseph Frelinghuysen
Republican
1922
Won
Walter Edge
Republican
1924
Won
Edward Edwards
Republican
1928
Won
Dwight Morrow
Republican
1930
Won
Hamilton Kean
Republican
1934
Won
William Barbour
Republican
1936
Won
William Smathers
Democrat
1942
Won
Howard Smith
Republican
1946
Won
Howard Smith
Republican
1952
Won
Clifford Case
Republican
1960
Won
Pete Williams
Democrat
1964
Won
Clifford Case
Republican
1966
Won
Pete Williams
Democrat
1970
Won
Clifford Case
Republican
1972
Won
Pete Williams
Democrat
1976
Won
Clifford Case
Republican
1978
Lost
Bill Bradley
Democrat
1984
Won
Frank Lautenberg
Democrat
1988
Won
Bill Bradley
Democrat
1990
Won
Frank Lautenberg
Democrat
1994
Won
Robert Torricelli
Democrat
2002
Won
Robert Menendez
Democrat
2006
Won
Frank Lautenberg
Democrat
2008
Won
Robert Menendez
Democrat
2012
Won
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Not every incumbent ran for reelection, of course, with a few recent New Jersey Senators resigning or retiring due to scandal:

· Three Senators resigned to take another office: Democrats Arthur Moore (1938) and Jon Corzine (2006) resigned to become governor while Republican Walter Edge (1929) left in the middle of his second term to become U.S. Ambassador to France under Herbert Hoover.

· Another Senator resigned in a high-profile scandal: four-term Democrat Pete Williams (1982) was convicted in the FBI ABSCAM sting operation and resigned his seat near the end of his term before the Senate's vote to expel him took place.

· Democrat Robert Torricelli (2002), meanwhile, withdrew from his reelection race after winning his party's nomination when a campaign finance scandal shattered his prospects of victory. He withdrew from the race just over a month before Election Day and retired at the end of the term.

· Two other Senators died in office: Republicans Dwight Morrow (1931) and William Barbour (1943).

· Another 10 Senators did not run for reelection or were appointed and did not run for the subsequent election to fill the vacancy: Republican David Baird (1918), Republican David Baird, Jr. (1930), Democrat John Milton (1938), Democrat Arthur Walsh (1944), Republican Albert Hawkes (1948), Republican Robert Hendrickson (1954), Republican Howard Smith (1958), Republican Nicolas Brady (1982), Democrat Bill Bradley (1996), and Democrat Frank Lautenberg (2000) during his first stint in the nation's upper legislative chamber.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Walter Mondale's Recommendations for Filibuster Reform
Next post: The Top Five Smart Politics Reports of 2012

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting