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"We are coming up on our 40th anniversary of electing a Republican to the United States Senate. 1972 was the last time New Jersey sent a Republican to the United States Senate."

Chris Christie on Friday, May 4th, 2012 in a speech at a Cato Institute event

Chris Christie said New Jersey hasn’t sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 40 years

History bodes poorly for Republican Senate hopefuls in New Jersey.

That’s because Richard Nixon was gearing up for a second term in the White House the last time New Jersey voters sent a GOP candidate to the U.S. Senate, according to Gov. Chris Christie.

"We are coming up on our 40th anniversary of electing a Republican to the United States Senate. 1972 was the last time New Jersey sent a Republican to the United States Senate," Christie said in a May 4 speech at an event held by the libertarian Cato Institute.  

New Jersey’s presence in the House of Representatives remains relatively bipartisan. But have four decades passed since the state elected a Republican to the Senate?

Outside of an eight-month stint by a Republican appointed in 1982, Democrats have held both Senate seats for more than three decades, PolitiFact New Jersey found.

Clifford Case was the last Republican that New Jersey voters elected to the Senate, in 1972. That year he started his fourth term. He lost a bid for re-election in the 1978 GOP primary to Jeffrey Bell.

Bill Bradley, a Democrat, defeated Bell in the 1978 general election, starting decades of Democratic dominance of New Jersey’s Senate seats.

At least one Republican from New Jersey had served in the Senate in the 40 years leading up to Bradley’s victory, but Democrats have won every Senate election since then. Even in 1982 after Democrat Harrison Williams was forced from office for convictions on bribery and conspiracy charges as part of a federal corruption probe.

A Republican briefly held Williams’ seat, but he was appointed, not elected.

Then-Gov. Tom Kean  in 1982 picked Republican Nicholas Brady to fill in for Williams, whose term ended the next year. Brady stepped down, however, after Frank Lautenberg won in the general election, defeating Republican Millicent Fenwick. Kean appointed Lautenberg to complete the final days of the term.

Lautenberg started his first full term in January 1983 and served three six-year terms before leaving Washington, D.C. when he decided not to seek re-election.

But he returned to Capitol Hill two years later in 2003 after replacing fellow Democrat Robert Torricelli on the ballot. Torricelli, who had served one term, quit his re-election bid in 2002 a month before voters headed to the polls because of questions about his ethics. Torricelli was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee earlier that year over gifts he accepted from a campaign contributor.

Lautenberg is serving his fifth term and is up for re-election in 2014.  Robert Menendez, a Democrat, also represents New Jersey in the Senate.

In 2006, Menendez replaced Jon Corzine, when the then-first-term Senator Corzine  was elected New Jersey’s governor. Menendez won a full term to the Senate later that year. He is up for re-election this November against Republican Joe Kyrillos, who Christie has endorsed.

Our ruling

Christie said: "We are coming up on our 40th anniversary of electing a Republican to the United States Senate. 1972 was the last time New Jersey sent a Republican to the United States Senate."

In 1972, New Jersey sent Republican Clifford Case to the U.S. Senate to serve a fourth term.

Since then, New Jersey voters have not elected another GOP candidate to the Senate. And though a Republican from New Jersey briefly served in the Senate in 1982, he was appointed, not elected.

We rate Christie’s statement True.

To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.

About this statement:

Published: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 at 7:25 a.m.

Subjects: Congress, Elections


C-SPAN, Governor Chris Christie Remarks, May 4, 2012

Fitzgerald’s Legislative Manual: 2011, pgs. 1048-1054, accessed May 7, 2012

Fitzgerald’s Legislative Manual: 1979, pg. 811, accessed May 8, 2012

Fitzgerald’s Legislative Manual: 1983, pg. 876, accessed May 8, 2012

U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk, Election Statistics, accessed May 8, 2012

Senator Frank Lautenberg, Senator Lautenberg's Biography, accessed May 7, 2012

The Star-Ledger’s Inside Jersey, Jersey Republicans Just Can’t Win, December 2011

The New York TImes, William Is Guilty on All Nine Counts in Abscam Inquiry, May 2, 1981

The New York Times, Ethics Committee Faluts Torricelli on Gift Violations, July 31, 2002

The Star-Ledger, Menendez steps forward to succeed Corzine in Senate, Dec. 10, 2005, accessed via Nexis on May 8, 2012

The Star-Ledger, An issue he could have dealt with earlier: Torricelli fought memo release, so now it's more fuel, Sept. 27, 2002, accessed via Nexis on May 8, 2012

Written by: Erin O'Neill
Researched by: Erin O'Neill
Edited by: Caryn Shinske

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