Marge Roukema

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Marge Roukema
Marge Roukema.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Millicent Fenwick
Succeeded by Scott Garrett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Andrew Maguire
Succeeded by Matt Rinaldo
Personal details
Born Margaret Scafati
(1929-09-19)September 19, 1929
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Died November 12, 2014(2014-11-12) (aged 85)
Wyckoff, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Richard Roukema
Alma mater Montclair State University
Rutgers University, Newark

Margaret "Marge" Roukema (née Scafati; September 19, 1929 – November 12, 2014) was an American politician who represented New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives for twenty-two years as a Republican.

A graduate of Montclair State College, Roukema's first career was as a teacher in the Ridgewood Public Schools. She began her political career in the local board of education, becoming the vice president of the body in 1970. In 1980, she challenged three-term incumbent Democratic Congressman Andrew Maguire, and won in what was then the 7th District. She was one of several Republicans swept into office by Reagan's coattails. After decennial redistricting, Roukema's district was renumbered as the 5th District and became significantly more Republican than its predecessor. She was handily reelected in 1982 and nine more times after that with almost no opposition.

Roukema was a moderate Republican, as was the case with most Republicans from the Northeast. She faced a primary challenge from the right in 1992, defeating Louis Sette by a 62%–25% margin. In 1998, State Assemblyman Scott Garrett, a considerably more conservative Republican, challenged her in the primary. Roukema managed to fight him off, and did so again in 2000.

With the prospect of another primary challenge from Garrett in 2002 (in a district made even more conservative on paper by redistricting), as well as facing the loss of her subcommittee chairs due to caucus term limits, the Ridgewood Republican opted not to seek a 12th term and retired from politics.[1] Garrett won the nomination with 45% of the vote and went on to win the seat, despite Roukema's refusal to endorse him; State Senator Gerald Cardinale, who Roukema endorsed in the primary to succeed her, came in third with 25% of the vote, behind State Assemblyman David C. Russo with 26%.[2][3]

She was an honorary board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women.[citation needed]


On November 12, 2014, Roukema died at Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff, New Jersey at the age of 85. She had Alzheimer's disease.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff. "BRIEFING: POLITICS; ROUKEMA RETIRING", The New York Times, November 11, 2001. Accessed January 29, 2011. "Representative Marge Roukema, a leading voice in the Republican Party's moderate wing since her election in 1980, said last week that she would retire after her current term. Ms. Roukema, 72, of Ridgewood, is the longest-serving woman in Congress."
  2. ^ Kocieniewski, David. "Forrester to Represent G.O.P. in Race to Unseat Torricelli", The New York Times, June 5, 2002. Accessed March 30, 2008. "In the Republican primary to replace Representative Marge Roukema, who is retiring from her Fifth Congressional District seat, State Assemblyman E. Scott Garrett, defeated State Senator Gerald Cardinale, whom Mrs. Roukema had endorsed. With all precincts reporting, Mr. Garrett had 46 percent, to 25 percent for Mr. Cardinale and 26 percent for Assemblyman David C. Russo."
  3. ^ "Capital briefs", Human Events, October 28, 2002. Accessed November 1, 2007. "In New Jersey, retiring liberal GOP Rep. Marge Roukema has for months refused to endorse conservative Scott Garrett, the Republican nominee to succeed her in the 5th District."
  4. ^ Marge Roukema, former congresswoman, dies at age 85,; accessed November 15, 2014.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Andrew Maguire
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Matt Rinaldo
Preceded by
Millicent Fenwick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Scott Garrett