Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg defeated Republican Pete Dawkins, a retired Army general, Heisman trophy winner and Rhodes Scholar, surviving a nasty and expensive battle of negative campaign ads to win his second term. Vice President George Bush soundly defeated Michael S. Dukakis to claim the state’s 16 electoral votes.
With 54% of the precincts reporting, Bush had 952,472 votes, or 58%, and Dukakis had 679,956 votes, or 42%.
Democrat Donald Payne became the state’s first black congressman with a landslide victory for the 10th district seat vacated by Democrat Peter Rodino, who is retiring after 40 years in the House. With 26% of the precincts in, Payne had 18,999 votes, or 82%, to 4,239 votes, or 18% for Republican Michael Webb.
Lautenberg had 838,003 votes, or 53%, to 734,750 votes, or 47%, for Dawkins.
Opinion polling in May had shown Dukakis with a 14-point advantage, but then the Democrat radically cut back campaigning in an effort to outflank Bush elsewhere. The vice president, meanwhile, visited the state eight times and built a commanding lead, which rose to 19 points in a poll released Monday.
New Jersey currently has seven Democrats and six Republicans in the House.