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1985 New Jersey gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1985 New Jersey gubernatorial election

← 1981 November 5, 1985 1989 →
Thomas Kean 1987 crop.jpg
Nominee Thomas Kean Peter Shapiro
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,372,631 578,402
Percentage 69.6% 29.3%

1985 NJ GovElect Result.svg
County results
Kean:      60-70%      70-80%

Governor before election

Thomas Kean

Elected Governor

Thomas Kean

The New Jersey gubernatorial election of 1985 was a race for Governor of New Jersey held on November 5, 1985. Incumbent Republican Governor Thomas Kean sought reelection for a second term following his 1797-vote win in the 1981 election. Kean's 40-point landslide victory against the Democratic candidate, Essex County Executive Peter Shapiro, is the largest plurality in terms of percentage and raw votes in all modern New Jersey gubernatorial elections.[1] Kean won 564 out of 567 municipalities (losing only Audubon Park, Chesilhurst, and Roosevelt) and his coattails led the Republicans to win the General Assembly with a 50-seat majority.[2][3] To date, Kean is the most recent Republican to win Essex and Hudson counties in a statewide election.

Kean also won a 62% majority among African-American voters.[4] As of 2020 this is the last New Jersey gubernatorial election won by someone of the same party as the incumbent president.

Primary elections

Primary elections were held on Tuesday June 4, 1985.

Republican primary

Incumbent Governor Thomas Kean was unopposed in the Republican primary election.

Republican primary results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas Kean (inc.) 151,259 100.00
Total votes 151,259 100.00

Democratic primary



Democratic Party primary results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Shapiro 101,243 31.02
Democratic John F. Russo 86,827 26.60
Democratic Kenneth A. Gibson 85,293 26.13
Democratic Stephen B. Wiley 27,914 8.55
Democratic Robert Del Tufo 19,742 6.05
Democratic Elliot Greenspan 5,834 1.65
Total votes 326,403 100.00

General election


Major party candidates

  • Thomas Kean, Republican, incumbent Governor
  • Peter Shapiro, Democratic, Essex County executive, former member of the General Assembly

Other candidates[7]


Municipalities won by Kean in red, only three municipalities (Audubon Park, Chesilhurst, and Roosevelt) in blue won by Shapiro
Municipalities won by Kean in red, only three municipalities (Audubon Park, Chesilhurst, and Roosevelt) in blue won by Shapiro

Kean was riding on high popularity ratings from voters on account of the good economic situation of the state in the 1980s including a surplus in the state budget.[8]

His efforts to aid depressed cities through Urban Enterprise Zones and reaching out to groups not typically associated with the Republicans including African Americans and labor unions led to endorsements from black ministers, Coretta Scott King,[9] the AFL–CIO, and The New York Times.[10][11]

Shapiro ran on a platform of reducing car insurance rates, the state's high property taxes, and improvement of the environment but his struggles of fundraising due to New Jersey being located in two expensive media markets (New York City and Philadelphia) and Kean's momentum left his campaign little-received.[10]


New Jersey Gubernatorial Election, 1985[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thomas Kean (inc.) 1,372,631 69.58%
Democratic Peter Shapiro 578,402 29.32%
Independent Rodger Headrick 8,537 0.43%
Libertarian Virginia Flynn 4,710 0.24%
Socialist Workers Mark Satinoff 3,703 0.19%
Socialist Labor Julius Levin 2,740 0.14%
Communist George M. Fishman 1,901 0.10%
Majority 794,402 40.26%
Turnout 1,972,624
Republican hold Swing


  1. ^ O'Neill, Erin (November 29, 2012). "Raymond Bateman says Tom Kean won the 1985 gubernatorial election by largest margin in state's history". PolitiFact New Jersey. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  2. ^ Hanley, Robert (November 15, 1999). "Reality Catches Up to a Utopian Legacy; A New Jersey Oasis Debates High Taxes and Suburban Growth". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  3. ^ Reilly, Matthew (November 5, 1985). "Republican Gov. Thomas Kean, winner four years ago of..." United Press International. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  4. ^ Stone, Roger (September 30, 1989). "How the G.O.P. Can Nail Down the Black Vote". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Candidates for the Office of Governor - State of New Jersey" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. 1989. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  6. ^ "5th Democrat in Race For Governor in Jersey". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 16, 1985. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  7. ^ Staff (November 3, 1985). "Other candidates in the race to be the Governor of Jersey". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Joseph F. (June 5, 1985). "Democrats in Jersey select Shapiro to face Kean in fall". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  9. ^ Norman, Michael (26 October 1985). "CORRETTA KING, IN JERSEY, BACKS KEAN AS HE SEEKS THE SUPPORT OF BLACKS". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b "1985 Elections: New Directions for Parties?". CQ Almanac (41st ed.). 1986. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  11. ^ NYT Editorial Board (October 29, 1985). "Governor Kean for New Jersey". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  12. ^ "Votes Cast for the Office of Governor of the State of New Jersey" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. 1985. Retrieved June 16, 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 8 May 2021, at 20:13
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