N.J. Gov. Murphy addresses midterm primaries, political reform on monthly show

The governor defended his support of Rob Menendez, son of New Jersey’s senior U.S. senator and a primary process that inhibits incumbent challenges.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks in front of an American flag.

File photo: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks to reporters during a briefing in Trenton, N.J., Feb. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday answered questions about this week’s midterm primary election in the state, and political competitiveness, on his monthly radio show with tri-state area public radio stations.

This year’s state midterm voting didn’t offer too many surprises as incumbents won their primaries by huge margins in 11 out of 12 districts with incumbents running. Five ran unopposed.

WYNC, New York, host Nancy Solomon asked Murphy if the perceived lack of competitiveness in this year’s primary races hurts the electoral process.

“There’s absolutely nothing that prevents [competitiveness] from happening,” Murphy said.

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“Competition is always good, but I think when you have folks doing the job that that delegation is doing, it doesn’t surprise me that they didn’t have competition,” Murphy added. “It’s going to be a lot different than the general, which you want a competitive election. We’ve got a bunch of competitive House seats in November. And I know our folks are not going to take anything at all for granted.”

Solomon pushed back on Murphy’s assertion, noting that New Jersey is the only state in the country that lays out election ballots by grouping together party-endorsed candidates for different offices on a slate together, in a process known as, “the line.”

“Essentially it groups together candidates from governor down to local races,” Solomon said. “The county party committees endorse candidates, and that’s what determines who runs on the line. Research has shown that running on the line gives [an endorsed] candidate an almost insurmountable advantage.”

Solomon also asked Murphy about his support for current New Jersey Senator Bob Mendendez’s son, Robert Mendendez, who won his primary race for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District. The “Ask Governor Murphy” host implied that Mendendez had received “preferential treatment” in his campaign.

“I know Rob, completely independent of his dad,” Murphy said. “This is a guy I quite happily and proudly nominated to serve as a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. And he’s earned it.”

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