2002 United States Senate election in New Jersey

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United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2002

← 1996 November 5, 2002 2008 →
  Frank Lautenberg, official portrait, 112th portrait crop.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Frank Lautenberg Douglas Forrester
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,138,193 928,439
Percentage 53.9% 44.0%

2002 NJ Senate Map.svg
County Results

Lautenberg:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Forrester:      50–60%      60–70%

U.S. Senator before election

Robert Torricelli

Elected U.S. Senator

Frank Lautenberg

The 2002 United States Senate election in New Jersey was held on November 5, 2002. The race was to originally feature Democrat Robert Torricelli, who was running for a second term in the seat he had won when former Senator Bill Bradley elected not to run for a fourth term in 1996 and who had been the state's senior senator following Frank Lautenberg's retirement at the end of the 106th United States Congress, against former West Windsor Township mayor Douglas Forrester, who had won the Republican nomination.

Torricelli, however, had been the target of an ethics probe and eventually dropped out of the race in late September 2002. After legal proceedings aimed as forcing Torricelli's name to remain on the ballot were filed by Forrester's campaign, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Lautenberg, with whom the Democrats sought to replace him, could remain on the ballot.

In the general election, Lautenberg defeated Forrester by a 9.9% margin. At 78, Lautenberg became the oldest person ever to win an open Senate election.[1] Lautenberg became the state's junior senator for the second time when he was sworn in on January 3, 2003. (Bradley, elected in 1978, was the senior senator during Lautenberg's first fourteen years in office, and Jon Corzine, who was elected to Lautenberg's old Senate seat, became the senior senator in 2003 as Lautenberg's previous eighteen years in the Senate were not counted as he was starting over.)

Major candidates[edit]




As noted above, Torricelli dropped out of the race on September 30 due to ethical problems and poor poll numbers against Forrester, a relatively unknown opponent.[2] The New Jersey Democratic Party convinced the retired Lautenberg to join the race after Torricelli dropped out. In the case of The New Jersey Democratic Party v. Samson, 175 N.J. 178 (2002), Forrester sued to stop Democratic Party efforts to have Lautenberg replace Torricelli. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously on October 2 that the party could switch Lautenberg's name in for Sen. Torricelli's on the ballot.[3] Forrester received the endorsement of President George W. Bush.[4]


New Jersey United States Senate Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Frank Lautenberg 1,138,193 53.88%
Republican Douglas Forrester 928,439 43.95%
Green Ted Glick 24,308 1.15%
Libertarian Elizabeth Macron 12,558 0.59%
Conservative Norman E. Wahner 6,404 0.30%
Socialist Greg Pason 2,702 0.13%
Majority 209,754 9.93%
Democratic hold Swing {{{swing}}}