Christie, Trump shadows could loom large for Guadagno in N.J. governor’s race

 New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) faces Democrat Phil Murphy in the general election for Governor this fall. (AP File Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) faces Democrat Phil Murphy in the general election for Governor this fall. (AP File Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno won their party’s nominations in Tuesday’s Primary. It was the first statewide primary election since Donald Trump took office and it’s his shadow and that of Guadagno’s boss, current Gov. Chris Christie, that could prove problematic for the Republican’s chances.

“With (their) job approval ratings, that are going to be playing out in this election, you can bet that Mr. Murphy and will be running against Mr. Trump and Chris Christie,” Brigid Callahan-Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, said on WHYY’s Morning Edition. “You can bet that is going to have a negative impact not just on the perception of the Republican candidate but on Republican turnout.

“Particularly, in a state like New Jersey, where Democrats out-register Republicans by a large margin — most voters in New Jersey are independent but many swing Democratic,” she added. “These party machines in places like Hudson, Union, Essex, and Camden Counties, the people who run these parties are well behind Mr. Murphy. They’re going to be getting out the vote and it’s going to be a very lopsided race.”

Harrison said that Murphy’s early entry into the race, as well his pumping $20 million of his own money into his campaign, helped him clear some contenders from a pretty crowded Democratic field. Notably, Senate President Steve Sweeney of South Jersey stayed out of the race.  Murphy’s connections to his former position with Goldman-Sachs have led to Republicans trying to tie him to former Gov. John Corzine. 

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“People (in the GOP) have tried to link his past to Jon Corzine,” Harrison said. “I view this as a long proxy war between Jon Corzine, which is how Kim Guadagno will paint Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Trump and Mr. Christie — Christie in particular.

“That’s unfortunate because what that means is that there are some very real and very important issues that New Jerseyans want discussed and want solutions to including property taxes and pension reform, and we’re not going to get into a whole lot of substantive debate on this,” she added. “That will be crowded out by the politics of personality that will dominate the airwaves.”

To hear the entire interview with Brigid Callahan-Harrison, Press play at the top of the page.

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