Phil Murphy is the 56th governor of New Jersey, and voters are set to decide Tuesday if he will remain in that post or if Jack Ciattarelli will become the state's 57th chief executive.

If Murphy wins re-election, he would be the first Democrat to do so in the Garden State since Brendan Byrne in 1977.

Jim Florio in 1993 and Jon Corzine in 2009 both lost their re-election bids, while Republicans Tom Kean (1985), Christie Whitman (1997), and Chris Christie (2013) won theirs.

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Setting aside incumbents, some candidates who have come up short in New Jersey gubernatorial elections continued in public life following their defeats, while others seemingly faded away.

Here's a look back at a few of them.

Kim Guadagno
Kim Guadagno (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

2017 — Kim Guadagno (R) defeated by Phil Murphy

Guadagno was the first-ever lieutenant governor in New Jersey's history, with that position having been created as of the 2009 election that ushered Chris Christie into office. But by the end of Christie's second term, Guadagno (at that time a frequent guest of Bill Spadea's) had distanced herself not only from the governor, but also from President Donald Trump, and lost to Murphy by 14 points.

This past summer, Guadagno announced she was leaving the Republican Party, and became the executive director of Mercy Center, an Asbury Park-based food pantry and counseling center.

Barbara Buono and Chris Christie at first gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University in Wayne
Barbara Buono and Chris Christie during first gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University (WCBS TV)

2013 — Barbara Buono (D) defeated by Chris Christie

Buono's 22-point loss drove the former state Senate majority leader first from Jersey politics, then out of the Garden State entirely, as she was recruited to join the staff of then-new Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler in 2017. But in early 2020, having moved back to the East Coast, Buono wrote a HuffPost op-ed recounting instances of sexism she had experienced on the New Jersey political scene. Shortly after, the New Jersey Globe reported that she was invited to Gov. Murphy's budget address, just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doug Forrester in 2002 (via C-SPAN)
Doug Forrester in 2002 (via C-SPAN)

2005 — Doug Forrester (R) defeated by Jon Corzine

A businessman, former West Windsor mayor, and official in Gov. Tom Kean's administration, Forrester's loss in the 2005 governor's race was preceded by his defeat in the contentious 2002 U.S. Senate contest in which incumbent Sen. Bob Torricelli dropped out over ethics concerns and was allowed to be replaced on the ballot by retired former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Today, Forrester is president of the healthcare services company Integrity Health, and chairman of Rising Tide Capital.

Chris Christie, Bret Schundler
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, listens as Education Commissioner Bret Schundler answers a question Thursday, July 15, 2010. (AP Photo/ Mel Evans)

2001 — Bret Schundler (R) defeated by Jim McGreevey

McGreevey's narrow loss to Whitman in the 1997 election translated to a landslide victory four years later, leaving Schundler, then the recent mayor of Jersey City, in the dust by more than 14 points. Schundler would try again for the governorship in 2005 — of course, not facing McGreevey a second time — but lost the Republican primary to Forrester.

In 2010, Schundler resurfaced as state education commissioner in the earliest days of the Christie administration, but as reported, was fired in August of that year after New Jersey lost hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funding.

Jim Courter in 1997 (via C-SPAN)
Jim Courter in 1997 (via C-SPAN)

1989 — Jim Courter (R) defeated by Jim Florio

New Jersey 101.5 did not exist in its current format when Florio, who lost by fewer than 1,800 votes statewide to Kean in 1981, finally won the governor's seat in '89. But the story of the station's early history cannot be told without a mention of its role in the tax "revolt" that gave Republicans control of the state legislature and booted Florio from office after one term.

For his part, Courter continued as a 12th District U.S. representative following his 1989 loss, leaving office after the 1990 Congressional midterms. Today, he practices administrative law, federal and state governmental relations, and international trade matters for the firm of Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis, & Cohen in North Jersey.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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