Update on the NJ Gubernatorial Race

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Every four years another governor comes to power in New Jersey, and in the fall of 2017 the New Jersey population will elect another one. This year, however, much of the heated politics took place before the presidential election.

Phil Murphy, a candidate for the democratic nomination, founded “New Start New Jersey” right here at NJIT back in 2014. This was created as a non-profit organization to help rebuild “New Jersey’s middle class” by facilitating the development of New Jersey’s Economy for the middle class. This organization boosted Phil Murphy’s popularity among the New Jersey population. Phil Murphy then announced he was running for NJ governor back in May 2016, a full year and a half before the election and a full year before the primary. He was the first candidate to enter the race and consequently convinced Steven Sweeny, State Senate President, and young up-and-coming Steven Fulop, Mayor of Jersey City, not to run for governor against him. They were considered by most insiders as the two toughest contenders for the Democratic Nomination.

It helped that Phil Murphy has received several Democratic county party endorsements as well as key union endorsements. Phil Murphy would go on to receive every Democratic county party endorsement are key in the democratic primary process since a large majority of votes are in urban areas and urban political machines are very effective. These machines usually are connected with the County Democratic party endorsement. Prior to this, Murphy never held an elected public office before but was ambassador to Germany under President Obama from 2009-2013. Like Governor Corzine, the last democratic governor, he was a Goldman Sacs Executive until he retired in the mid-2000s.

There are some contenders in the race though for the democratic nomination who have qualified for government matching funds from the state: Jim Johnson, State Senator Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman John Wisniewski. These candidates must participate in two televised debates. Phil Murphy has not qualified, but he has over a million dollars committed to spending for his campaign and therefore can participate as well. Jim Johnson was undersecretary of the treasury for Enforcement under the Clinton Administration and had a successful career as a lawyer. Senator Raymond Lesniak is really marketing himself as the environmental candidate.  Assemblyman John Wisniewski was chairmen of Bernie Sander’s NJ campaign and represents the left of the party. Most of these candidates announced their candidacy this past winter, which is expected, unlike Murphy’s much earlier announcement in May 2016.

The Republicans who have qualified for government matching funds are Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli of Somerset county, and Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. It will be a tough fight for the Lieutenant Gov. because she is linked with Republican Governor Chris Christie’s administration, which is doing very poorly in the polls. It should also be noted that both candidates publicly stated they would not vote for Donald Trump for President. This is striking since Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President. The Lieutenant Gov. has the majority of county Party endorsements, which can be helpful, but Assemblyman Ciattarelli has some of his own as well.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, the first debate for the 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Primary Race will take place at Stockton University. It has been decided that the Stockton Officials will randomly decide which party shares their views at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The event will be livestreamed on Facebook. The next Democratic debate will take place at 8p.m. Thursday May 11, 2017, only two days after the first one at NJTV’s studio right here in Newark, NJ. The Republicans will hold their debate on Thursday, May 18 which is 9 days after the Democratic debate, also to take place at 8p.m. Both the Democratic and Republican debates in Newark can be seen live on NJTV, NJ Spotlight, WNET and C-SPAN.

Be ready to vote in primary on June 6, 2017. 


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Chris Bosch

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