Phil Murphy vs. Kim Guadagno: A Preview of New Jersey’s Governor’s Race

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Phil Murphy attends a press conference at Opel headquarters on April 10, 2013 in Ruesselsheim, Germany. (Getty)

Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno will face off this November to become the next governor of New Jersey.

On June 6th, primaries were held in the Republican and the Democratic parties, and both Murphy and Guadagno defeated their opponents pretty easily, with the races being called less about a half hour after the polls closed.

Now that there are officially two candidates in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, here’s a look at where the race stands right now.


Kim Guadagno is the Current Lieutenant Governor & Secretary of State of New Jersey

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Kim Guadagno speaks to a legislator on February 25, 2014. (Getty)

Kim Guadagno brings a fair amount of experience to the table. Starting off her career in law, she in 2008 began serving as the sheriff of Monmouth County. Then, in 2009, Guadagno became Chris Christie’s pick for lieutenant governor. New Jersey had not had a lieutenant governor before, so this was the first election with this position on the ballot.

Ultimately, Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno won the 2009 election, and Christie later announced that Guadagno would serve in the dual roles of lieutenant governor and secretary of state. She has served in both of these positions ever since.

In her run for governor, Kim Guadagno has noticeably distanced herself from Chris Christie, who has recently maintained an approval rating of about 20 percent. When she launched her gubernatorial campaign, she didn’t mention Chris Christie’s name a single time, and she promised that “better days are ahead in New Jersey,” according to NJ.com.

Guadagno also during her campaign has taken some shots at Chris Christie, at one point joking at a campaign stop that she doesn’t travel in a helicopter, clearly a reference to Chris Christie’s frequent use of the state police helicopter.

Back in February, Guadagno made this distance explicit, saying that she and Christie couldn’t be more different.

“We’re completely different in style,” Guadagno said, according to Politico. “Plainly, we’re completely different how we approach problems in New Jersey.”

Guadagno also said that she wants to fix the fact that the people of New Jersey don’t trust their elected officials, an obvious reaction to the Bridgegate scandal among other Christie controversies.

“My concern here is people in New Jersey do not trust their public officials, and we have a serious lack of trust over the last couple of years,” Guadagno said, according the USA Today. “A governor who is willing to limit her own power and give that power over to someone who will be independent who only answers to the taxpayer of New Jersey would send a very large signal to the people of New Jersey they can begin to trust their government again.”

Guadagno has also distanced herself from Donald Trump, which makes sense considering Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in New Jersey by 14 percentage points. In October 2016, after a tape was released on which Donald Trump is heard bragging about sexually assaulting women, Guadagno criticized the Republican nominee.

“No apology can excuse away Mr. Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” Guadagno said on Twitter. “We’re raising my 3 boys to be better than that.”

NJ.com subsequently reached out to Guadagno to ask whether this meant that Guadagno wasn’t voting for Trump; she said that she would not be voting for Hillary Clinton, but she also would not be voting for Donald Trump.


Phil Murphy is a Former Goldman Sachs Financier & U.S. Ambassador to Germany

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Phil Murphy speaks during a press conference at Opel headquarters on April 10, 2013 in Ruesselsheim, Germany. (Getty)

Phil Murphy’s background is quite different from that of Kim Guadagno, as he is a 23-year Goldman Sachs veteran.

Murphy joined Goldman Sachs in 1983, proceeding to work his way up and eventually becoming the head of the company’s office in Frankfurt, Germany. After a few years in this position, he became the president of Goldman Sachs in Asia, working out of Hong Kong. In the early 2000s, he became senior director and retired from the company a few years later.

In May 2005, Murphy was named chair of the New Jersey Benefits Task Force by Acting Governor Richard Codey. Then, from 2006 through 2009, he was the national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee, where he worked alongside Howard Dean.

In 2009, Barack Obama picked Phil Murphy as his United States Ambassador to Germany, and Murphy served in that position until 2013.

Murphy announced his candidacy for governor in May 2016, becoming the first person to enter the race. Throughout his campaign, Murphy has been quite critical of Donald Trump, at one point comparing the rise of Trump to the rise of Hitler.

“I’m a modest student of Germany history. And I know what was being said about somebody else in the 1920’s,” Murphy said during a town hall, according to NJ.com. “And you could unfortunately drop in names from today into those observations from the 1920’s, and the moves that have been made early on only aid and abet that argument.”

In a recent television ad, Phil Murphy targeted President Donald Trump, clearly positioning himself as the anti-Trump candidate in the race.

“The fight back starts here, starts now, and starts with us,” Murphy said in the ad. “…As governor, I will defend New Jersey and stand up to President Trump every time he attacks the vulnerable and defies our Constitution.”


NJ Governor Race: Betrayed │Phil Murphy (D) TV AdThe 2017 New Jersey Governor Race is Shaping up to be a Referendum on President Donald Trump. The expected primary race pits Phil Murphy (D), a former Goldman Sachs executive with the backing of the party apparatus, against State Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D), who chaired Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign in the state and promptly hired…2017-03-21T13:47:57.000Z

Recently, Phil Murphy received the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden.

“This is the single most important race in the country in the next three years, before the presidential race,” Biden said of the New Jersey gubernatorial election, according to the USA Today. “This is an off-year election year for the fourth-largest state in America, and the whole country — and not an exaggeration — the world is going to be looking.”


Murphy is Leading Guadagno in the Polls

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Kim Guadagno listens as Chris Christie delivers an address on February 24, 2015. (Getty)

In the general election polls that have been conducted so far, Phil Murphy holds a significant lead over Kim Guadagno.

In a Quinnipiac poll conducted in May, Murphy captured 50 percent of the vote compared to Guadagno ‘s 25 percent. However, it should be noted that at this point in the election, a very substantial percentage of voters have not heard enough about either of the candidates. In that aforementioned Quinnipiac poll, 57 percent of voters said that they don’t know enough about Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno to form an opinion of them.

In another Quinnipiac poll conducted in March, Murphy lead Guadagno 47 percent to 25 percent. And in still another Quinnipiac poll from January, Murphy lead Guadagno 45 percent to 29 percent.

FiveThirtyEight recently noted that Phil Murphy is better positioned to defeat his opponent than any Democrat in decades.

“In the polling I could find at this point in the campaign (in June or in the nearest poll taken before June), Murphy is in a better position at this point before the general election than any Democrat since at least 1989,” FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten reports.