Marge Roukema

Marge Roukema
Marge Roukema
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th and 5th district
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Andrew Maguire
Succeeded by Scott Garrett
Personal details
Born September 19, 1929 (1929-09-19) (age 82)
Newark, New Jersey
Political party Republican
Religion Reformed Christian

Margaret Scafati "Marge" Roukema (born September 19, 1929 in Newark, New Jersey) represented New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives for twenty-two years as a Republican. No woman has served in Congress from New Jersey since Roukema left office.

A graduate of Montclair State College, Roukema's first career was as a teacher in the Ridgewood Public Schools. She began her political career in the local board of education, becoming the vice president of the body in 1970. In 1980, she challenged three-term incumbent Democratic Congressman Andrew Maguire, and won in what was then the 7th District. She was one of several Republicans swept into office by Reagan's coattails. After decennial redistricting, Roukema's district was renumbered as the 5th District and became significantly more Republican than its predecessor. She was handily reelected in 1982 and nine more times after that with almost no opposition.

Roukema was a moderate Republican, as was the case with most Republicans from the Northeast. She faced little opposition until 1998, when State Assemblyman Scott Garrett, a considerably more conservative Republican, challenged her in the primary. Roukema managed to fight him off, and did so again in 2000.

With the prospect of another primary challenge from Garrett in 2002 (in a district made even more conservative on paper by redistricting), as well as facing the loss of her subcommittee chairs due to caucus term limits, the Ridgewood Republican opted not to seek a 12th term and retired from politics.[1] Garrett won the nomination with 45% of the vote and went on to win the seat, despite Roukema's refusal to endorse him; State Senator Gerald Cardinale, who Roukema endorsed in the primary to succeed her, came in third with 25% of the vote, behind State Assemblyman David C. Russo with 26%.[2][3]

She is an honorary board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women.


  1. ^ Staff. "BRIEFING: POLITICS; ROUKEMA RETIRING", The New York Times, November 11, 2001. Accessed January 29, 2011. "Representative Marge Roukema, a leading voice in the Republican Party's moderate wing since her election in 1980, said last week that she would retire after her current term. Ms. Roukema, 72, of Ridgewood, is the longest-serving woman in Congress."
  2. ^ Kocieniewski, David. "Forrester to Represent G.O.P. in Race to Unseat Torricelli", The New York Times, June 5, 2002. Accessed March 30, 2008. "In the Republican primary to replace Representative Marge Roukema, who is retiring from her Fifth Congressional District seat, State Assemblyman E. Scott Garrett, defeated State Senator Gerald Cardinale, whom Mrs. Roukema had endorsed. With all precincts reporting, Mr. Garrett had 46 percent, to 25 percent for Mr. Cardinale and 26 percent for Assemblyman David C. Russo."
  3. ^ "Capital briefs", Human Events, October 28, 2002. Accessed November 1, 2007. "In New Jersey, retiring liberal GOP Rep. Marge Roukema has for months refused to endorse conservative Scott Garrett, the Republican nominee to succeed her in the 5th District."

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Andrew Maguire
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Matthew Rinaldo
Preceded by
Millicent Fenwick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Scott Garrett

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