Some N.J. GOP leaders urge early Christie exit to improve chance of keeping governor’s office

Some Republican lawmakers in New Jersey believe it could help their party’s chance of winning next year’s gubernatorial election if Chris Christie were to leave for a post in the Trump administration and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno takes over.

That would allow Guadagno to become better known to voters, said Sen. Jim Holzapfel.

“I think it would be an asset for her to be in that position. It would enable her to point to things that she can accomplish,” he said. “Her working relationship with the Democrat majorities in both the Senate and Assembly may be better than the relationship that presently exist between the governor and the leadership.”

Sen. Sam Thompson said Christie’s attention is focused on his role as Trump’s transition chairman.

“Let Christie go take care of Washington. Trump needs his help down there. Kim, on the other hand, she’ll be able to focus on the problems we got right here,” he said. “In her first six months, she’ll have a lot of incentives to go out there and deal with a lot of these problems we have and get them solved. That will greatly increase our chance of getting a Republican governor elected next year.”

Sen. Joe Kyrillos said he was reluctant to speculate on the outcome.

“If she gets a chance to serve, I know she’ll do it with great dedication and enthusiasm, and things will work out fine. The politics thereafter, who knows?

“I’m going to leave all the analysis for 2017 for other people because so many people were wrong this time,” he said.

Senator Kevin O’Toole also would not hazard a guess on who might win the gubernatorial election because he says several other Republicans are considering running.

Former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and has the money to wage an aggressive campaign.

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