New Jersey gubernatorial election, 1981

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New Jersey gubernatorial election, 1981

← 1977 November 3, 1981 1985 →

  Thomas Kean 1987 crop.jpg James Florio headshot 1983 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Thomas Kean James Florio
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,145,999 1,144,202
Percentage 49.46% 49.38%

1981 NJ GovElect Result.svg
Results by county
  Kean 60–70%
  Kean 50–60%
  Florio 60–70%
  Florio 50–60%
  Florio <50%

Governor before election

Brendan Byrne
Democratic

Elected Governor

Thomas Kean
Republican

The New Jersey gubernatorial election of 1981 was a race for Governor of New Jersey held on November 3, 1981. Republican Thomas Kean narrowly defeated Democrat James Florio with 49.46% of the vote following a recount of the ballots.[1]

Primary elections

Primary elections were held on Tuesday June 2, 1981.[2]

Republican primary

Candidates

Results

Republican primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Kean 122,512 30.75
Republican Lawrence Francis Kramer 83,565 20.98
Republican Bo Sullivan 67,651 16.98
Republican James Wallwork 61,816 15.52
Republican Barry T. Parker 26,040 6.54
Republican Anthony Imperiale 18,452 4.63
Republican John K. "Jack" Rafferty 12,837 3.22
Republican Richard McGlynn 5,486 1.38
Total votes 398,359 100.00

Democratic primary

Candidates

Results

Democratic Party primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic James Florio 164,179 25.92
Democratic Robert A. Roe 98,660 15.58
Democratic Kenneth A. Gibson 95,212 15.03
Democratic Joseph P. Merlino 70,910 11.20
Democratic John J. Degnan 65,844 10.40
Democratic Thomas F. X. Smith 57,479 9.08
Democratic Frank J. Dodd 23,866 3.77
Democratic William J. Hamilton 17,395 2.75
Democratic Barbara McConnell 16,123 2.55
Democratic Ann Klein 14,844 2.35
Democratic Herbert J. Buehler 4,266 0.67
Democratic Stella E. Mann 2,375 0.38
Democratic Rose Zeidwerg Monyek 2,129 0.34
Total votes 633,282 100.00

General election

Candidates

Major party candidates

  • Thomas Kean, Republican
  • James Florio, Democratic

Other candidates

  • Bill Gahres, Down With Lawyers
  • Chester Grabowski, The Suffering Majority
  • Jack Moyers, Libertarian
  • Paul B. Rizzo, Independent-Honest-Available
  • Harry J. Gaynor, Leadership By Example
  • James A. Kolyer, III, Middle Class Candidate
  • Jules Levin, Socialist Labor Party of America
  • Charles C. Stone, Jr., Federalist
  • James E. Harris, Socialist Workers Party
  • Ernest D. Pellerino, Law & Order
  • Jasper C. Gould, Contempt of Court

Results

The results of the initial ballot counting was close with Kean leading Florio by 1,677 votes. Two television networks had actually called the race for Florio at the time.[1] State Democrats had accused the Republican National Committee of intimidating minority voters in Newark, Camden, and Trenton by setting up the Ballot Security Task Force which sent out mailers to voters in these cities and posted armed off-duty police officers and large signs at certain precincts.[3] A recount took place over the next month and Kean was certified the winner besting Florio by 1,797 votes out of over 2.3 million votes cast.[1]

New Jersey gubernatorial election, 1981[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Thomas Kean 1,145,999 49.46%
Democratic James Florio 1,144,202 49.38%
Independent Bill Gahres 4,525 0.20%
Independent Chester Grabowski 4,496 0.19%
Libertarian Jack Moyers 2,377 0.10%
Independent Paul B. Rizzo 2,336 0.10%
Independent Harry J. Gaynor 2,209 0.10%
Independent James A. Kolyer, III 2,144 0.09%
Socialist Labor Julius Levin 2,073 0.09%
Independent Charles C. Stone, Jr. 1,948 0.08%
Socialist Workers James E. Harris 1,681 0.07%
Independent Ernest D. Pellerino 1,647 0.07%
Independent Jasper C. Gould 1,602 0.07%
Plurality
Turnout 2,317,239 100.00%
Republican gain from Democratic Swing

References

  1. ^ a b c "Election night 1981, when the N.J. governor's race was too close to call". NJ.com. 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Candidates for the Office of Governor - State of New Jersey" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. 1981. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ Joffee, Robert (November 8, 1981). "Democrats Accuse GOP of Intimidating Minorities in N.J. Voting". Washington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Votes Cast for the Office of Governor of the State of New Jersey" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. 1981. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
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