The death of Jim Florio in September, only one New Jersey member remains alive The Watergate Babiesa group of 49 Democrats who flipped House seats in the 1974 midterm elections.

Andrew Maguire (D-Ridgewood), now 83, served in the Lyndon Johnson administration as a political and security adviser at the U.S. State Department and on the staff of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations before returning to Bergen County. to make a freeholder application in 1972.

Maguire is the only living New Jersey congressman who served during the presidency of Gerald R. Ford. The only Watergate Baby still working is Patrick Leahy, who won a seat in the US Senate in 1974 at the age of 34; Leahy did not seek re-election this year and will leave office on January 3, 2023, after 48 years in office.

In the race for an unfilled term, Maguire won 49% of the vote against Republican incumbent Kenneth Sherwood. He was quickly tagged as a rising star after running first among four Democratic candidates, including respected Cliffside Park Mayor Gerald Calabresi.

In early 1974, Maguire announced his intention to challenge Congressman William Widnall (R-Saddle River), who was serving his 25th year as a Bergen County congressman for the seat now held by Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff ). . Widnall, 68, the ranking Republican on the House Banking Committee, won 58 percent of the vote in 1972 — he trailed President Richard Nixon by eight percentage points — and with the Watergate scandal unfolding, Democrats saw him as vulnerable.

Maguire wasn’t the only Democrat in the race: former state Sen. Ned Parsekian (D-Ridgewood), Bergen County Surrogate Gil S. Jobe, Assemblyman Edward Hines (D-Maywood) and Marjorie Wingaarden, founder of Northern NJ NOW and former chair of the American Union of Civil Liberties in Bergen County.

Bergen County Democratic Party Chairwoman Barbara Werber decided to hold an open primary and allowed all five candidates to run in the organizational column; all but Wingarden accepted the offer. Maguire received endorsements from the AFL-CIO and the Bergen County Building Trades and placed first on the ballot for the primary.

Parsekian moved from Flemington to Montvale in 1964 after a Republican senator from Hunterdon County blocked his nominations for state motor vehicle director and Supreme Court justice. His move was made with a plan to run for the Senate, and he was the top vote-getter in the 1965 election. He sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1969.

Job spent 35 years as a surrogate — he was first elected in 1957 after serving as a school board member and assemblyman — and won three terms as a Republican and then four terms as a Democrat.

In 1971, at the age of 25, Hines flipped a Republican Assembly seat by just 59 votes and easily retained it in the Democratic wave of 1973; he did not seek re-election in 1975 and received 38% in his bid for Bergen County Supervisor in 1994.

Maguire won the primary by 5,786 votes over Parsekian (52-25%), with Jove taking 11% in his third-place finish. Hynes came in fourth with 9%, while Wyngaarden received less than 3%.

In the general election, Maguire ousted Widnall by 8,431 votes, 49.7% to 44.4%.

In 1976, Ford finished 7th by a margin of 58% to 42%, but Maguire defeated Wyckoff Town Committeeman James Sheehan, a Republican, by 13 points to secure a second term.

The Republican challenger to Maguire in 1978 was Marge Rukema, a former Ridgewood school board member.

Rukema won the primary, 39%-32%, against a well-known name in the Republican primary: Joseph Woodcock (R-Cliffside Park), who served 12 years as an Assemblyman and state senator, four years as Bergen County prosecutor, and briefly ran for office governor from the Republican Party in 1977.

Maguire won by six points, but lost the 1980 rematch to Rookema.

In 1982, Maguire sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate after four-term president Garrison Williams was convicted in the Abscam scandal. He finished second in a field of ten candidates, losing to businessman Frank Lautenberg with 11,788 votes, 26%-23%. Maguire only carried Bergen County, but he did so with 63% of the vote and a margin of 22,014 votes.

Roukema held the seat for 22 years; she was succeeded in 2002 by Assemblyman Scott Garrett (R-Wantage), who narrowly defeated Rukema in the 1998 and 2000 Republican primaries. Garrett served for 14 years until Gottheimer removed him in 2016.

In 2012, Maguire considered a comeback bid against Garrett, but decided against it.

The other three Democrats who flipped New Jersey’s congressional seats in 1974 – William Hughes (D-Ocean City), Helen Miner (D-Phillipsburg) and Florio are deceased.

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