New Jersey Gubernatorial Election: Profile of Candidates

By Michael McCurry

With Election Day fast approaching, the candidates remain a mystery to a lot of New Jerseyans, many of whom are still unaware of who is running for the Garden State’s top job and what their platforms are.

Currently, the Democratic candidate Phil Murphy sits atop the most recent state polls. The latest survey conducted by Fox News from October 14 through October 16 has Murphy grabbing 47 percent of voters, which puts him a good 14 percent ahead of the next candidate. The Murphy campaign has also brought in over $10 million in campaign finances, which puts him nearly $7 million clear of the next candidate.

Murphy’s leading policy proposals include increased funding for Planned Parenthood, state infrastructure and the public school systems. Murphy is also a strong supporter of the legalization and taxation of marijuana, which he believes will increase state revenue as it has in states such as Washington and Colorado. One of Murphy’s most robust proposals is the creation of a state public bank which will invest in local small businesses.

Holding the second spot in the aforementioned Fox News poll is Republican Kim Guadagno. Owning 33 percent of the vote and slightly over $2 million in campaign money, Guadagno, the current Lieutenant Governor, faces an uphill battle. Guadagno’s campaign is currently suffering due to her association with current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is the most unpopular Governor in New Jersey’s history by far with a mere 15 percent approval rating statewide. Murphy’s campaign has also used her ties to Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” to their advantage.

Guadagno is going straight for tax cuts, promising property tax reliefs through a comprehensive plan that will cap school taxes at five percent of household income. Another significant proposal is her plan to root out government waste by performing a statewide audit of New Jersey government programs to cut or rework those that create waste. Lt Gov. Guadagno is also a staunch detractor of “the sanctuary state.” Guadagno has labeled herself strongly against illegal immigration and will enact legislation to stop cities from protecting undocumented citizens.

Drew University’s College Republicans’ member Nick De Furia (‘19) said,

Students should vote for Lt. Governor Guadagno because [she] has presented us with a quality and road-tested plan to reduce the cost of living in New Jersey. New Jersey has one of the highest costs of living in the entire nation and that results in it being extremely difficult for anyone from young college graduates to retired seniors to live here.

As well as the two top-polling candidates, the election has three third-party candidates in the running. Sharing roughly eight percent in the recent polls done by Fox News, the top third-option parties are significantly behind. Regarding fundraising, the front-runner is currently Green Party candidate Seth Kaper-Dale, who is running on a very similar platform to Phil Murphy, though with a stronger emphasis on environmental legislation. Behind him is the Independent candidate Gina Genovese, who is running on a platform of comprehensive property tax reform. In a similar fashion to Senator Bernie Sanders, the former Long Hill Township Mayor is entirely funded by voter contribution and has refused help from PACs and wealthy donors. Finally, there is Libertarian Peter Rohrman. Rohrman promises many cornerstone Libertarian policies such as looser gun laws, the legalization of marijuana and a reduction of the drinking age to 18.

The gubernatorial election is on November 7.

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