NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - William J. Hamilton Jr., who served in the State Assembly and the State Senate before a failed bid for governor in 1981, has died. He was 86.

Hamilton served six years in the Assembly and four years in the Senate.

He served as the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly for the 1977 session.

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Hamilton, who continued to reside in New Brunswick after retiring from politics, died Thursday.

He received a B.A. from Rutgers University in 1954, then served in the Navy.

After a stint as a law clerk for a United States district court judge in Florida, he returned to New Brunswick and became a partner in the law firm of Hamilton and Mulligan.

He was elected to the General Assembly from the 17th Legislative District in Middlesex and Somerset counties in 1971.

Hamilton served three terms, becoming assistant majority leader in 1974, majority leader for the 1976 session, and Speaker in January 1977.

In 1977, he was elected to the State Senate, replacing John A. Lynch Sr. in 1977.

In 1981, rather than run for reelection to the Senate, he sought the Democratic nomination for governor. He finished 10th in a field of 13 in the primary election.

When his Senate term ended in 1982, he was succeeded in the 17th District senate seat by John A. Lynch Jr. and he returned to his New Brunswick law practice.

Hamilton married Barbara Brown in 1958, and the couple had four children.

He was born in New Brunswick in 1932.