When voters go the the polls Tuesday, Democratic millionaire Phil Murphy is heavily favored to replace Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who will leave office as one of the most unpopular elected officials in the country.
Christie’s record of closing the George Washington Bridge to punish a Democrat who refused to endorse his re-election, 11 credit rating downgrades and lack of success on a host of other issues leaves GOP Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno struggling in the polls and unable to raise money for her campaign.
Running independent of major party support are former Long Hill Mayor Gina Genovese, Vincent Ross, Green Party candidate Seth Kaper-Dale, Matthew Riccardi of the Constitution Party and Libertarian Peter Rohrman. Combined, the independent contenders are expected to garner less than 50,000 votes, according to various polls.
President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have hit historic lows. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 59 percent disapprove of Trump’s handling of the presidency — the worst of any president at nine months in office since modern polling began.
Only 37 percent of those polled approve of Trump’s performance in office while state surveys indicate Christie’s approval rating stands around 16 percent among New Jerseyans.
Instead of breaking out with an appeal to populism, Guadagno has promised impossible tax cuts and joined the Trump train wreck by trying to provoke fear about terrorism in the wake of Murphy’s call for a smarter and more compassionate national immigration policy.
Sen. Bob Menendez could have been a drag on Murphy, but his corruption and bribery trial played out a federal court in the weeks before voters cast their ballots without any sign that is is influencing the election, although a conviction would mean the next New Jersey governor would probably control the appointment of his successor.
Just over a month after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, then-President Barack Obama appointed Judge Merrick Garland to take his seat but Republicans in the Senate never allowed his nomination to move forward.
With the Republican Party’s razor thin margin of control of the upper house in Congress, it is very likely that Menendez will stay in the seat as long as he can even if he is found guilty.
The Wall Street titan has dominated Guadagno, the state’s first lieutenant governor, who seems to have squandered her eight years in the office with little to show.
Whatever dissatisfaction Democrats have toward Wall Street, where Murphy spent decades as an executive at Goldman Sachs, the unpopularity of Trump and Christie make another Republican victory almost impossible.
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