During the 1967 Newark riots, he advocated armed white self-defense, forming the volunteer North Ward First Aid Squad ostensibly to escort North Ward residents, most of whom were Italian-American, through racially troubled areas. The group was accused of vigilantism, and Governor Richard J. Hughes called Imperiale's followers "Brownshirts". In 1969, the group disbanded.
Imperiale was elected to the Newark City Council in 1970, and to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1971. Running as an independent, he received the most votes in a field of 7 candidates with 13,857. Democrat Frank G. Megaro, who received 12,436 votes, also won. Defeated were incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Paul Policastro (10,825 votes), incumbent Republican Assemblyman C. Richard Fiore (8,215 votes), Republican Ralph D'Ambola (7,351 votes), Del Mauro (3,323 votes), and independent Nicholas A. Ciufi II (2,729 votes).
In 1973, Imperiale ran as an independent for the New Jersey State Senate, seeking an open seat in the newly created 30th district, which comprised Newark's East Ward, and Harrison and Kearny in Hudson County. Imperiale, received 24,756 votes (49%), against Democrat Gregory J. Castano with 18,286 votes (36%) and Fiore, with 7,131 votes (14%).
Imperiale ran for Mayor of Newark in 1974 against incumbent Kenneth Gibson, but lost a runoff with 43.7% of the vote. He was defeated for re-election to the State Senate in 1977 against Frank E. Rodgers, the Mayor of Harrison, New Jersey. He was again elected to the State Assembly in 1979, this time as a Republican. He defeated three-term Democratic Assemblyman John F. Cali. He gave up his Assembly seat in 1981 to seek the Republican nomination for Governor of New Jersey, finishing 6th in a field of 8 candidates with 5% of the vote.
|Thomas Kean||Former Assembly Speaker||122,512||31%|
|Pat Kramer||Former Mayor of Paterson||83,565||21%|
|James Wallwork||State Senator||61,816||16%|
|Barry T. Parker||State Senator||26,040||7%|
|Anthony Imperiale||State Assemblyman||18,452||5%|
|Jack Rafferty||Mayor of Hamilton||12,837||3%|
|Richard McGlynn||Former Superior Court Judge||5,486||1%|
- David M. Halbfinger (December 28, 1999). "Anthony Imperiale, 68, Dies; Polarizing Force in Newark". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
Anthony Imperiale, a race-baiting civic leader and politician from Newark who became a national symbol of the backlash against urban unrest by wielding a baseball bat to defend his white neighborhood during the 1967 riots, died Sunday at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston of complications related to kidney failure. He was 68. ...
- "Ronald J. Del Mauro". OurCampaigns.com. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Richard C. Fiore". OurCampaigns.com. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Our Campaigns". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
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