John O. Bennett

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John O. Bennett III
Governor of New Jersey
In office
January 8, 2002 – January 12, 2002
Preceded by John Farmer Jr.
as Acting Governor
Succeeded by Richard Codey
as Acting Governor
Member of the New Jersey Senate
Personal details
Born (1948-08-06) August 6, 1948 (age 69)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Peg Bennett

John O. Bennett III (born August 6, 1948) is a former New Jersey Republican politician who served as State Senator, President of the State Senate. Bennett served as Acting Governor of New Jersey for four days in January 2002.


Bennett attended Dickinson College from 1966 to 1968, graduated from West Virginia University with a B.A. in 1970, and earned a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1974.

Acting Governor[edit]

Bennett served as Acting Governor for three and a half days in January 2002. Following Governor Christine Todd Whitman's resignation the previous year to become head of the EPA, Bennett was one of three different senate presidents (along with Donald DiFrancesco and Richard Codey, along with Attorney General John Farmer) to serve as acting governor for the one-year period between Whitman's resignation and Jim McGreevey's inauguration. DiFrancesco served as acting governor for all but the last week of this period, until his term as senate president ended. Farmer, Bennett and Codey then divided the last week of the term among them, with Bennett serving for three days, from January 8, 2002, to January 12, 2002, leading to a situation in which the state had five different people serving as governor during a period of eight days.[1]

During his service as acting governor, Bennett signed legislation into law, appointed judges, granted a pardon, created a nursing advisory council, and hosted several parties at Drumthwacket. The nursing advisory council was a tribute to his wife, Peg, a nurse. Peg Bennett was active during her tenure as First Lady of New Jersey.


In June 2002, Bennett was involved in a shoving match with South Jersey Democratic Party boss and Commerce National Insurance CEO George Norcross after Norcross threatened to publicize a pardon Bennett gave during his three-day executive tenure if Bennett could not convince his fellow Republican senators to vote for a tax increase and stadium construction bill in committee.

Bennett fell out of favor as a result of allegations that he overbilled the municipality of Marlboro Township for legal services. In a statement to the press, Bennett blamed party bosses and a biased press for attempting to destroy him. Bennett was a leading opponent of using state funds to construct a convention center/stadium in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey that would have been used by a minor league ice hockey team that Norcross had bought an interest in.

2003 Election[edit]

John Bennett failed in his 2003 bid for re-election to the State Senate, falling to Ellen Karcher, 52%-43%, with the Green Party of New Jersey candidate winning 5% of the vote.[2]

Current activities[edit]

In the 2005 primary election he was elected Republican State Committeeman for Monmouth County. John O. Bennett is also a professor at Montclair State University. In June 2012 he was elected the chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Party Committee during its annual reorganization meeting.[3]


  1. ^ Staff. "N.J.'S LINE OF SUCCESSION / A SIMPLE FIX", The Press of Atlantic City, November 11, 2002. accessed June 22, 2012. "Thanks to an unusual set of circumstances and a flaw in the state constitution, New Jersey had five different governors over eight days at the beginning of the year. Even for New Jersey, this was pretty bizarre."
  2. ^ Mansnerus, Laura. "Jersey State House Loses Race and Party's Hopes", The New York Times, November 5, 2003. Accessed November 26, 2007. "Mr. Bennett, a moderate Republican who became the highest-ranking Republican officeholder in the state amid Democratic gains in the Senate and General Assembly two years ago, conceded defeat at around 9:30 p.m. following a rough race against Ellen Karcher, Marlboro township's council president, who took 52 percent of the vote. Mr. Bennett got 43 percent, and the Green Party candidate, Earl Gray, received 5 percent."
  3. ^


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Farmer Jr.
Acting Governor
Acting Governor of New Jersey
January 8, 2002 – January 12, 2002
Succeeded by
Richard Codey
Acting Governor
Preceded by
Donald DiFrancesco
President of the New Jersey Senate

Succeeded by
Richard Codey