Pulse: Chatter: North & South

Thought Obama faced long odds? Try winning a U.S. Senate seat from South Jersey

In the lead-up to this month’s U.S. Senate race in New Jersey — in case you’ve missed it, Democratic incumbent Frank Lautenberg is running against former Republican congressman Dick Zimmer — some politicos felt Lautenberg would be vulnerable to the feisty primary challenger, Haddon Heights congressman Rob Andrews. But old Frank (and we do mean old) killed, with nearly 60 percent of the primary vote.

The fact that Lautenberg, a senator with a lackluster record who, if reelected, will be a spry 91 when he finishes his next term, could so easily fly-swat Andrews away may say less about New Jersey’s laconic electorate than it does about the state’s unspoken civil war. Andrews’s biggest hurdle wasn’t his record: It was his address. Only 14 of the 54 men who have represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate since 1789 have hailed from anywhere south of Trenton, and just six of those — 11 percent — have managed to serve a full six-year term.
So as the champagne gets iced for Frank’s ride into office (no one thinks Zimmer has a prayer), we take a quick tour of the notable — if few — South Jersey senators. Perhaps one day the South will rise again — in 2012, when Bob Menendez’s seat comes up.

Franklin Davenport
Served: 1798-’99
Lived: Woodbury
Résumé ­Rundown: ­Nephew of Ben Franklin made a name for himself as a militia man, including a stint as colonel during the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794. (Cheers!) Appointed to his Senate seat, he lasted just three months before jumping down to the House.

Robert C. Hendrickson
Served: 1949-’55
Lived: Woodbury
Résumé ­Rundown: Temple Law grad and war vet (he served in three) lost governor’s race in ’40 (it was tough days for the GOP) but rebounded with a Senate win in ’48. This Mr. Whipple doppelgänger liked Ike: Eisenhower appointed him to a two-year stint as ambassador to New Zealand in 1955. G’day!

William J. Sewell
Served: 1881-’87; 1895-1901
Lived: Camden
Résumé ­Rundown: William Howard Taft looks plus primo military background (he was the only New Jersey regiment commander awarded Medal of Honor for Chancellorsville) proved formidable combo. Lost reelection bid and two others (in 1889 and 1893), but that Joisey persistence pays: won seat back in ’95. Grave marker designed by Alexander Calder.

Walter E. Edge
Served: 1919-’29
Lived: Ventnor
Résumé ­Rundown: Most prominent senator of the lot, he also served as governor twice (1917-’19 and 1944-’47) and ambassador to France under Hoover; never lost a single election. A noted sportsman (he hunted quail); his cartoon likeness has been used for anonymous political blogger “Wally Edge” since 2000. (We’re sure he’d be thrilled.)

Garret D. Wall
Served: 1835-’41
Lived: Burlington
Résumé ­Rundown: Burlco attorney and War of 1812 vet was actually elected governor of New Jersey in 1829, but, showing good sense sorely lacking in those who’ve followed, declined the job and took the Senate gig a few years later. His reward: The township known for flooding was named after him in 1851.