The 2017 New Jersey Gubernatorial Elections

Phil Murphy (Democrat) and Kim Guadagno (Republican) are currently leading their parties in the race for Governor, both of whom enjoyed a wide margin of victory in their respective primary elections last Spring. Murphy, the former US Ambassador to Germany and a former executive at Goldman-Sachs, was able to beat out Jim Johnson and John Wisneski during the Democratic Primary with 48% of the vote (241,353 votes). Guadagno, the current Lieutenant Governor under Chris Christie, managed to overcome Jack Ciattarelli during the Republican Primary and won 47% percent of the vote (75,275 votes). The candidates now face off for the general election on November 7. Most analysts expect Murphy to have a massive advantage over Guadagno as registered Democrat voters greatly outnumber registered Republican voters in New Jersey. On top of this, Governor Christie (who is a Republican) is historically unpopular and state polls give Murphy a sizable lead. However, President Trump’s surprise victory last November keeps many hopeful for Guadagno’s chances.

Notably, Phil Murphy holds endorsements from several high-profile Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden and both NJ Senators, while Kim Guadagno holds mostly state endorsements. In fact, Guadagno has repeatedly criticized and distanced herself from both President Trump and Governor Christie, likely due to their unpopularity in the state.

The candidates will face off for the general election on November 7. In order to cast your vote, you can register in person a day before the election day, or register 14 days prior through mailing in the necessary paperwork.

Phil Murphy

Kim Guadagno

Signature Proposal

Wants to create a state bank owned by the state that would offer loans to small local businesses and students and give tax money to community banks. Critics say the bank would hurt local banks and is susceptible to political corruption and influence.

Wants to implement a “property tax circuit breaker” that would limit the school portion of homeowners to 5% of their household income through state tax credits. Critics say this plan is incredibly expensive, costing over $1.5 Billion and planning to withdraw crucial funds from other tax relief and state programs.

Education

For college students, Murphy wants to increase state funding to lower tuition costs, create new vocational programs, provide loan forgiveness for graduates working at STEM-related state jobs, and offer refinancing of student loans to NJ students through the new state bank. For high school students, Murphy wants to end PARCC testing and eliminate exit test graduation requirements.

Most of Guadagno’s education policies concern reforming state funding for education. For example, she wants to “remedy fairness” by mandating cities like Jersey City and Hoboken to contribute funding to programs like pre-schooling and school construction that are currently funded by the state. Regarding college students, she promises to make higher education “more flexible and affordable”.

On Trump

Murphy has repeatedly compared Trump and the political climate created by his administration to Hitler to the rise of Nazi Germany, especially after the clashes in Charlottesville. Notably, he says this as the former US Ambassador to Germany under President Obama. Some of his policy proposals are presented as direct rebukes to those of President Trump.

Last fall, Guadagno stated that she did not plan to vote for Trump and has published tweets demeaning Trump for his vulgar remarks about women. However, on election day, she called upon voters to choose republican leaders “from the top of the ticket to the bottom”. Recently, she condemned the violence in Charlottesville but didn’t criticize President Trump over his delayed remarks as many others did.

Economy

Murphy wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, mandate paid sick leave, ensure equal pay, and establish a state child and dependent tax credit. He has promised to fully fund NJ’s pension crisis, partly with increased taxes on the wealthy.

On top of Guadagno’s promise to veto tax increases and cut property taxes, she wants to make NJ more veteran and military friendly, grow the tourism industry, and invest in improving our transportation infrastructure. Regarding the pension crisis, Guadagno has proposed several reforms designed to lower costs and curb abuse.

Immigration

Murphy plans to oppose any efforts led by the Trump administration to use state police to assist in mass deportations. He also wants to provide driver’s licenses and state ID to undocumented residents, extend in-state financial aid to Dreamers, and increase access to professional licenses for immigrants.

Guadagno opposes having “families torn apart” by deportation but says that refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials is not viable. She opposes sanctuary cities “on any level for any reason”, claiming that they put law enforcement in greater danger. Instead, Guadagno has promised to work with state and county officials to plan effective solutions.

Other Issues

Phil Murphy’s views are in line with most other Democrats. He favors increased gun safety regulations, the legalization and taxation of marijuana, and the funding of Planned Parenthood.

Guadagno strays from President Trump but still holds popular Republican views. She does not support the legalization of marijuana or the funding of Planned Parenthood although she is surprisingly pro-choice.

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