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New Jersey gubernatorial election, 1997


New Jersey gubernatorial election, 1997

New Jersey Gubernatorial election, 1997

November 4, 1997

Candidate Christine Todd Whitman Jim McGreevey
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,133,394 1,107,968
Percentage 46.87% 45.82%

County Results

Governor before election

Christine Todd Whitman

Elected Governor

Christine Todd Whitman

The New Jersey gubernatorial election of 1997 was a race for Governor of New Jersey. It was held on November 4, 1997. In the Democratic primary state senator and Woodbridge Township mayor James McGreevey defeated pre-primary front-runner Rep. Rob Andrews by 9,993 votes. Polls during the last month of the race showed incumbent Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) with only a slim lead. On election night Whitman prevailed over McGreevey by a margin of 26,953 votes, a 1.05% margin. Whitman won 46.87% of the vote, with Democratic nominee James McGreevey receiving 45.82% and Libertarian Murray Sabrin receiving 4.7%.

Democratic primary



Democratic primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim McGreevey 148,153 39.86%
Democratic Rob Andrews 138,160 37.17%
Democratic Michael Murphy 79,172 21.30%
Democratic Frank C. Marmo 6,189 1.67%
Totals 371,674 100%

Republican primary



Republican Party primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Christine Todd Whitman (inc.) 147,731 100.00%
Totals 147,731 100.00%

General election



In June, a 60-second radio ad paid for by the New Jersey Republican Party focused on the 30% income tax cut and 180,000 new jobs. Whitman ads blamed McGreevey for the state's auto insurance rates. The Whitman campaign emphasized the drops in unemployment, violent crime and welfare rolls during her term. Other ads took aim at McGreevey's record on taxes, particularly his support for former Gov. Jim Florio's (D) tax increase. The RNC criticized former Gov. Jim Florio (D) in an ad October, calling his 1990 tax increase a result of electing "liberal Democrats".

In September, McGreevey unveiled two TV ads criticizing Whitman and focusing on property taxes, auto insurance rates, pension bond debts and education standards. The DNC also spent $1 million during the home stretch of the campaign on television ads for Democratic candidates statewide.


Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
McGreevey (D)
Christine Todd
Whitman (R)
Sabrin (L)
Other Undecided
New York Times/CBS News October 25–29, 1997 1,082 ± 3.0% 33% 44% 8% 3% 12%
Quinnipiac College October 14–20, 1997 1,120 ± 2.9% 37% 45% 8% 1% 9%
Quinnipiac College September 8–13, 1997 865 ± 3.3% 37% 49% - 4% 10%


In October, a poll found that voters of NJ called auto insurance the most important issue in the campaign, and property taxes second.


Three debates on October 18, 21 and 24, Whitman, McGreevey and Sabrin traded barbs on their dueling auto insurance plans, property taxes, state spending and the Atlantic City tunnel, a $215 million project for which a private investor gave $55 million.


New Jersey Gubernatorial Election, 1997[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Christine Todd Whitman (inc.) 1,133,394 46.87% -2.46%
Democratic Jim McGreevey 1,107,968 45.82% +10.62%
Libertarian Murray Sabrin 114,172 4.72% +4.40%
Conservative Richard J. Pezzullo 34,906 1.44% +1.24%
Green Madelyn R. Hoffman 10,703 0.44%
Independent Michael Perrone, Jr. 6,805 0.28%
Socialist Workers Robert B. Miller 2,816 0.12% +0.07%
Socialist Greg Pason 2,800 0.12%
Natural Law Lincoln Norton 2,540 0.11%
Independent Nuncie A. Ripa, Jr. 2,240 0.09%
Majority 25,426 1.05% +0.01%
Turnout 2,418,344
Republican hold Swing


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