John Dorsey

After their '73 trouncing, GOP came back in '75

After the 1973 election left Assembly Republicans with just fourteen seats, the GOP actually came close to winning control of the lower house in 1975, Brendan Byrne's mid-term election year.  That would likely have meant the return of Thomas Kean as Assembly Speaker; in turn, that could have altered the political landscape for the 1977 gubernatorial election.

Republicans picked up seventeen seats in '75, ousting eleven incumbents and picking up six open seats.  That reduced the Assembly Democratic majority from 66-14 to 49-31.

Seven other Democratic incumbents won close races: Walter Kozloski (D-Freehold) by 428 votes,  Robert Burns (D-Hasbrouck Heights) by 638 votes, Steven Perksie (D-Margate) by 725 votes, Harold Martin (D-Cresskill) by 995 votes, Mary Keating Croce (D-Pennsauken) by 1,068 votes, Vincent Ozzie Pellecchia (D-Paterson) by 1,275 votes, and Paul Contillo (D-Paramus) by 1,821 votes. 

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Assemblymen beating Senators in primaries are rare

Assemblymen beating Senators in primaries are rare
Eldridge Hawkins, a three-term Assemblyman, challenged Senate President Pat Dodd in the 1977 Democratic primary. He lost.

Assemblyman Michael Doherty says he'll seek the Republican nomination for State Senator against soon-to-be incumbent Marcia Karrow in June.  "Wild horses couldn't prevent me from running in that primary," he said.  Over the last 32 years, six Assembly members have taken on incumbent Senators in primaries, but only two have won.

The last sitting member of the State Assembly to beat an incumbent Senator in a primary was Leanna Brown, who beat James Vreeland in the 1983 Republican primary.  That same year, Senator Joseph Bubba defeated Assemblyman Terry LaCorte in the GOP primary. 

In 1993, State Senator Richard Codey beat Assemblyman Robert Brown in the Democratic primary.  Most recently, in 2003, Assemblyman LeRoy Jones unsuccessfully challenged Senator Nia Gill in the Democratic primary.

The 1977 primary election -- the same one where nine Democrats challenged incumbent Brendan Byrne in the Democratic gubernatorial primary - two Senators faced primary challenges from former running mates:  Charles Yates, a Democratic Assemblyman from Burlington County, ousted Senator Edward Hughes in the Democratic primary; and Assemblyman Eldridge Hawkins took on Senate President Frank "Pat" Dodd in the Democratic primary and lost. (Hawkins finished third, with tennis great Althea Gibson running second.) 

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Closer than the border of Boonton Twp. for Cabana and Bucco in the 25th District

Closer than the border of Boonton Twp. for Cabana and Bucco in the 25th District
Morris County Freeholder Doug Cabana

BOONTON - District 25 Assembly candidate Doug Cabana says the holidays shouldn’t be about politics so much as spending time with family.

But when Cabana last month sat down to Thanksgiving dinner across a table of family fellowship, the Morris County freeholder couldn’t avoid looking into the eyes of his chief political rival in District 25: Tony Bucco, Jr., husband to his only sister, Amy.

“I spent Thanksgiving at their house,” Cabana said.

"Doug and his parents have come to our house every year for Thanksgiving," said Bucco. "The way I see it, family is family and politics is politics. So when this Thanksgiving rolled around, it was no different. We had family and football."

There will likely be a few more weeks of these encounters, of tearing into gifts and food.

Then the campaigns of Bucco and Cabana will tear into each other, as most political insiders see the two men as chief combatants in the fight to succeed retiring Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham).

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Albohn beat Totaro, Maraziti

Arthur Albohn, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 86, was the last person to defeat an incumbent member of the State Assembly in a Morris County general election.  He did it in 1979, when he ousted Democrat Rosemarie Totaro by 3,088 votes.  (The last person to defeat an incumbent State Senator in Morris County was Anthony Bucco, who unseated Gordon MacInnes in 1997.  MacInnes had beaten John Dorsey four years earlier. 

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Lance lacks general election experience of his predecessors

One difference between Leonard Lance and the other Senate Republican leaders over the last thirty years is that Lance has never run himself in a competitive general election. His predecessor, John Bennett, began his legislative career by ousting three-term Democratic Assemblyman Walter Kozloski in 1979. Donald DiFrancesco, the Senate President from 1992 to 2002, unseated Democratic Assemblywoman Betty Wilson in 1975, and won a State Senate seat against Joanne Rajoppi, now the Union County Clerk, in a politically competitive district that included Plainfield and Rahway. John Dorsey, who followed DiFrancesco as Senate Minority Leader in 1984, defeated incumbent Democrats Gordon MacInnes and Rosemarie Totaro to win an Assembly seat in 1975, and beat incumbent State Senator Stephen Wiley in 1977. And Thomas Gagliano, who was Minority Leader in the late 1970's, won a competitive race for an open Senate seat in 1977, defeating Marlboro Mayor Arthur Goldzweig in a district that elected one Republican and one Democrat to the Assembly that year.

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Dems push Wefer to run for Assembly

A group of Democrats have launched a grass roots effort to draft Dana Wefer to run for the State Assembly in the 25th district, against incumbents Michael Patrick Carroll and Richard Merkt. Wefer, a 24-year-old law student, ran strong, but uphill, races for Morris County Freeholder in 2005 and 2006. In her last race, the Democratic rising star ran 3,595 votes ahead of her running mate and won endorsements from the Daily Record and eleven weekly newspapers.

Some Democrats view the 25th as potentially competitive, although Carroll and Merkt have had little trouble winning the district by solid margins in past elections. In 2005, Democrats Thomas Jackson and Janice Schindler lost by nearly 5,000 votes.

Democrats have not carried the 25th since 1993, when Gordon MacInnes unseated Senate Majority Leader John Dorsey in a contest that was almost entirely about Dorsey's ethics and his decision to block the reappointment of a Superior Court Judge. Four years later, MacInnes lost his seat to Republican Anthony Bucco.

The last Democrat to represent the district in the Assembly was Rosemarie Totaro, who won an open seat in 1977 against Republican Joseph Maraziti, a 65-year-old former Congressman and State Senator who has spent nearly forty years in politics. Maraziti had considerable political liabilities: as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Maraziti emerged as a staunch defender of President Richard Nixon, and his friendship with one of his congressional staffers -- female secretary with no typing skills -- received national attention.

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The first John Bennett

Former Senate Majority Leader John Dorsey is headed to court: he has filed a lawsuit against the Mayor of Mount Olive, alleging that Richard De La Roche owes him money. The embattled De La Roche, a Democrat, has been trying to fire the Dorsey as Municipal Attorney since he took office in 2004, but the Republican controlled Council has refused to approve any of De La Roche's replacements -- leaving Dorsey in holdover status. Dorsey lost his bid for a sixth term in the Senate in 2003 amidst criticism of the fees he received from Morris County municipalities represented by his law firm, and over his use of senatorial courtesy to block the reappointment of Superior Court Judge Marianne Espinosa Murphy, who was married to a Dorsey rival, then-Morris County Prosecutor Michael Murphy.

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The Back Room

Sweeney goes on offense

Days after Jersey City Mayor (and 2017 gubernatorial hopeful) Steve Fulop declared his support and fundraising devotion to South Jersey Congressional candidate Bill Hughes, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) see-sawed onto Fulop's turf with his own "I can find pockets of love in every part of this state including JC" statement.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 18, 2014

Fulop endorses Smith in Bayonne mayoral raceBAYONNE - Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop parachuted into the Bayonne mayoral race on Thursday night by endorsing incumbent Mayor Mark Smith."It is a pleasure to be with you here, Mark," said Fulop to a crowd of more than 125 supporters at a...


How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I've noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren't around watching Paterson get to where it's at today. I think it's important that... Read More >


(4-16-14) New Jersey Vote By Mail Law - The voter turnout for New Jersey’s November gubernatorial election was the lowest since the days of prohibition, coming... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »
Watching Governor Chris Christie's shocking BridgeGate implosion, it's easy to forget the time when he truly seemed unstoppable.  Blessed with incredible political gifts and a Jersey bluster to match,... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is my first Mark Smith event. There have been a lot of changes in Hudson County over the last year and a half, and the most important change that has happened is that there really is unity. For the first time, we really are working together. Despite political differences. Mark and I have worked very hard to repair that. I'm really happy to be here in support of him, because I recognize that when you work together, politics becomes secondary and you really have time to focus on government, which is the most important thing." - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop



Was Frank X. Graves of Paterson New Jersey's best mayor?:


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