For a time, presidential primaries were held in New Jersey, where there was nothing but beauty pageants, where an elected candidate was considered so unimportant that their names did not appear on the ballot.
Instead, voters had to write on behalf of their president.
The real meat of the primaries was the delegate race, which took place at a time when national and state parties did not have rules that would tie delegates to a particular presidential candidate.
Delegates were led by district chairmen, who could then control the votes as a national congress.
In 1968, there were no petitions for presidential candidates to run in the election. Instead, all the primaries of the beauty contest were held by voting.
As for the Democratic Party, Eugene McCarthy was ahead of Robert Kennedy, winning the primaries of the presidential election with 1,303 votes, 9,906 against 7,603. Hubert Humphrey took third place with 5,578 votes, followed by George Wallace (1399). President Lyndon Johnson received 380 votes across the state, although two months earlier he announced he would not seek re-election.
These votes reflected a total of 20 constituencies as the Cape May County clerk decided not to include a ballot option.
Richard Nixon received 71,809 votes for the record, easily ahead of Nelson Rockefeller (11,530) and Ronald Reagan (2,737). Separate votes went to John Lindsay (122) and Barry Goldwater (42).
Democratic Democrats included Gov. Richard Hughes, U.S. Sen. Harrison Williams, former Gov. Robert Meiner, Jersey City Mayor John W. Kenny, and Democratic Secretary of State / Secretary of State Robert W. Hughes. McCarthy candidates with a score of 2-1. McCarthy won 19 of the district’s 76 delegates.
At the stormy National Congress of the Democratic Party in Chicago, the party establishment gave Humphrey 62 votes in the first ballot.
In Miami, where Republicans held a convention, New Jersey played a key role in nominating Richard Nixon in the first ballot.
The plan was for all 40 delegates from the Republican Party of New Jersey – elected by the Republican Party – to vote for U.S. Senator Clifford Case in the first ballot to help deny Nixon the nomination.
But Nixon, with the help of State Senator William Herring (R. Thoms River), Bergen County Republican Party Chairman Nelson Grosso, Manmouth County Republican Party Chairman J. Russell Woolley and State Senator Frank Farley and legendary Atlantic Republican boss Frank “Happy” Farley (R-Ventnor) nominated 18 delegates to agree to vote for him in the first ballot.
This has caused one of the most tense moments in New Jersey’s modern political history.
Case and Republican Webster Todd (father of future governor Christine Todd Whitman) desperately tried to keep a delegation of 40 people. Case told delegates that voting for Nixon was voting against him.
He told the delegates that there would be retribution, and when the congress took place, he called for questioning the delegation. One by one, before the entire convention and on national television, each of New York’s 40 Republican delegates had to declare their individual preferences.
Nixon won the nomination in the first ballot with just 25 votes.