Gubernatorial contenders largely unknown to N.J. electorate

New Jersey Gubernatorial contenders (from left) former Obama administration ambassador Phil Murphy; Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; and New Jersey Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski

New Jersey Gubernatorial contenders (from left) former Obama administration ambassador Phil Murphy; Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; and New Jersey Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski

Who’s that?

A new Fairleigh Dickinson Public Mind Poll finds that’s the reaction most New Jersey voters have to the candidates who intend to run in next year’s election for governor.

Even the front-runner, Democrat Phil Murphy, is not very familiar to most residents, said poll director Krista Jenkins.

“Although Murphy announced his campaign early and has campaigned aggressively, he’s known to only 39 percent of registered voters. Almost a fifth or 18 percent have a favorable opinion of him with 9 percent who say they have an unfavorable opinion.”

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, is even less familiar to voters.

“He’s known to about a third of the electorate, 31 percent, despite having served as an assemblyman since 1996 and co-chairing the legislative committee charged with investigating the Bridgegate affair,” Jenkins said.

Chris Christie’s Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican, is known by only 40 percent of voters, she said.

“Their recent public disagreement over the gas tax amendment on November’s ballot is an example how she might raise her profile and distinguish her independence from the governor,” Jenkins said. “But, right now, the major of resident voters don’t know who she is even though she’s second in line to the governor.”

The other candidates are even more of a mystery to voters.

Most voters have been focused on the presidential race, and the candidates for governor still have a lot of time to define themselves, Jenkins said.

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