New Jersey voters have little sense of Dems waiting in the wings to run for governor

In this file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, (left), shares a laugh with Senate President Steve Sweeney during a July event in Paulsboro.  (AP, file)

In this file photo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, (left), shares a laugh with Senate President Steve Sweeney during a July event in Paulsboro. (AP, file)

The election to decide who will replace Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor is more than two years away. That’s a good thing for potential Democratic candidates — voters hardly recognize most of them.

Eighty-seven percent of registered voters surveyed in a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll say they’ve never heard of Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, while Phil Murphy, the former ambassador to Germany, is unknown to 88 percent of voters.

Poll director Krista Jenkins say Senate President Steve Sweeney now has the best name recognition of any possible Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and just 44 percent of voters are familiar with him.

“Thirteen percent say they have a favorable opinion of Sen. Sweeney, and 15 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s going to be up to him to define himself apart from Christie — despite the fact that in the past he has worked with him on a number of things that have not necessarily turned out great for the state.”

On the Republican side, it’s unclear if Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno will run to succeed her boss.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Jersey by 700,000, but about half the voters are not enrolled in either party.

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