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National Affairs: The Jersey Verdict

2 minute read

Ambling out of his mother’s Phillipsburg house on election night last week to acknowledge victory shouts from 3,000 cheering fellow Democrats, New Jersey’s handsome Governor Robert Baumle Meyner smiled broadly at the carefully printed posters and signs held by the faithful. MEYNER IN ’60, they read and GOODBYE


Meyner’s rout of Republican Malcolm Forbes was impressive enough for friends to promote him seriously for the 1960

Democratic presidential nomination. Ringing up the most votes ever cast for a Democrat in New Jersey, he carried 14 of the state’s 21 counties (including normally Republican Essex and Union), smashed Republican hopes by running close on Forbes’s heels in the other seven. He corralled the Negro vote, even though Forbes had told Negroes that they should vote Republican in return for the President’s action at Little Rock. Meyner spread coattails broad enough to carry back to Trenton with him an additional Democratic state senator and 22 new assemblymen, making the assembly Democratic for the first time in two decades, with the strongest Democratic majority (42 to 18) since 1913.

In the light of Eisenhower-Nixon endorsements of Forbes, Meyner’s success was all the sweeter because it was a do-it-yourself kind of victory. He had firmly rejected outside aid, i.e., from Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson and Massachusetts’ Senator Jack Kennedy. Meyner billboards did not even worry about the word Democrat. In short, Bob Meyner did it on his record, his personality and a well-oiled, new-model state machine. Said he modestly: “Whatever outside political influence the New Jersey verdict may be deemed to have, I leave to others.”

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