NJ Gubernatorial Candidates — Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy

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By the time you read this, Chris Christie’s tenure as New Jersey Governor will be rapidly winding to a close. Thank God.

The most likely candidates to replace Christie are Phil Murphy, a democrat and former ambassador to Germany and his GOP rival, Kim Guadagno, who’s NJ’s Lieutenant Governor. While they don’t share much politically, Murphy and Guadagno have two things in common: 1) Both are very good on LGBT issues, and 2) They’ve both been employed by assholes. Murphy used to work for Goldman Sachs, the firm that tanked your 401k. Guadagno is second-in-command to Chris Christie, the most unpopular governor in NJ’s history.

The good news: both these candidates walk the walk. Guadagno has been showing up at LGBT events for years, even when Christie was at the height of his powers. Murphy, meanwhile, has had enough gays in his team to launch their own Pride float!

We reached out to both Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno to get the 411. Thankfully, both campaigns were accommodating. Their replies are below.

Interview with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

You’ve spoken about the heroin crisis a lot on the campaign trail. I saw some recent statistics that LGBT people are 3 to 4 times more likely to become ensnared in the web of opiate addiction. I’m worried about my state. But I’m especially worried about my people, who still suffer greater degrees of all of that is bad, including addiction. Please tell me you share my concerns. Please also share your thoughts about prevention.

Kim Guadagno

Kim Guadagno: Drug addiction of any kind affects too many families in New Jersey, and it doesn’t discriminate. As lieutenant governor, I give out my cell phone number to New Jerseyans, and it’s heartbreaking how many calls I get from parents, or friends, or partners, seeking help for their loved ones. So while New Jersey is a national leader in addressing the epidemic, we still have to do better. This month, we will be presenting our plan to further address the issue, but it starts with a full-throated, local community response to the problem, and ends with strong leadership in Trenton who will make it a priority. And I will as governor.

For anyone who remembers the bad old days of the AIDS crisis in the early 1990s, the progress we’ve made on HIV/AIDS is nothing short of remarkable. But HIV is still a thing, and the sense of urgency is nonexistent. What would a Guadagno administration approach to HIV/AIDS look like?

KG: Personally, my family has always been involved in pediatric AIDS causes. Before my mother became sick, she led the way in my household. I have seen the good work that is being done in Newark up close, and I have heard the struggles of community activists to keep HIV/AIDS support on the front page. From Monmouth County’s St. George’s fundraising events headlined by my brother-in-law, to Holiday Express community events throughout the state that help AIDS patients around the holidays, I have been and always will be supportive, and I will continue to be a public advocate as governor.

Your opponent is very well liked within the LGBT community, and politics is such a nasty business; here is your opportunity to praise your opponent.

KG: My campaign has been and will continue to be about the most important issue facing ALL of us — affordability. At my announcement speech and again on primary night, I made it clear that I welcome all who believe New Jersey is too expensive to join us no matter their sexual orientation, gender, race or financial status. New Jersey simply has to lower property taxes, audit Trenton, cut out the waste and return the savings to the taxpayers so they can afford to live here.

Phil Murphy lives a few miles down the road from me, and at one time his wife was actually my son’s class mom. In some ways, he is my neighbor. But we have very different views on key issues like taxes. He wants to raise taxes on the most taxed people in this country, which I think will hurt people who are struggling to live in New Jersey, and want to stay here. I’ve taken the unusual step of promising to lower property taxes in my first term or not run again.

I believe in setting examples, and as governor, I will work every day to ensure New Jersey is a welcoming, more affordable place for everyone, including the gay community.

Interview with Phil Murphy:

Phil, I was there when you received Garden State Equality’s endorsement. You were beaming. Did it really mean that much to you?

Phil Murphy
Phil Murphy

Phil Murphy: Yes, it did! First of all, we must remember that we may be nine million New Jerseyans, but we are all one family. We rise and fall as one. An injustice against one of our family — whether based on race, religion, country of origin, or orientation or gender identity — is an injustice against all of us. These are the values that I stand for, and for which Garden State Equality stands.

It was also special because these issues are personal to me. When Tammy and I founded 2nd Floor, the teen helpline, we knew that among those who would call would be countless LGBT teens who just didn’t know where else to turn or who to talk to.

I have said up and down this state that my goal is to create a New Jersey with an economy that grows, that is fair and just, and that works for every family. Fairness and justice don’t just spring up overnight; it takes hard and consistent work to break down barriers and change hearts and minds. That is a fight I am fully committed do.

You’ve spoken about the heroin crisis a lot on the campaign trail. I saw some recent statistics that LGBT people are 3 to 4 times more likely to become ensnared in the web of opiate addiction. I’m worried about my state. But I’m especially worried about my people, who still suffer greater degrees of all of that is bad, including addiction. Please tell me you share my concerns. Please also share your thoughts about prevention.

PM: The truth about the opioid epidemic is that no part of our population is immune. This is a truly statewide crisis and something that the eyes of New Jersey should have been opened to long ago.

As a father, I am worried about this crisis, and remember my shock when my oldest son was given a huge bottle of opioid painkillers after being in a car accident. He and Tammy gave them back, and I’m glad they did. I sat with individuals in recovery, and many told stories of their addictions beginning with a prescription for an opioid medication. I’m glad that the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, new law limiting initial prescriptions, but we can’t just look at that law and wipe our hands and think our work is done.

The first step we must take is to de-stigmatize addition. We can’t leave residents struggling with addiction to hide in shame. We need to focus on treating addiction as an illness. I want to create stronger educational connections between schools and community centers so we can reach more people about the dangers of opioids before they get tangled in the web of addiction.

I put forward a multi-part plan last September to combat this epidemic. It includes expanding both access to early intervention treatments and recovery support, requiring health insurers to cover Medication-Assisted Treatments, and putting the state in the lead for bulk-purchasing Narcan to cut the costs for communities.

For anyone who remembers the bad days of the AIDS crisis in the early 1990s, the progress we’ve made on HIV/AIDS is nothing short of remarkable. But HIV is still a thing and the sense of urgency is nonexistent. What would a Murphy administration approach to HIV/AIDS look like?

PM: The day after the primary election, my first event was a roundtable on women’s health with leaders from Planned Parenthood and nurses. What I heard was shocking. Under Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno, Planned Parenthood has been totally defunded—and in the intervening years, rates of sexually transmitted diseases have skyrocketed. Why? Because these centers were the first place for preventative care for literally tens of thousands of residents, they provided access to education about and early detection for STD’s, and they don’t just cater to women—they also were a place where countless men could get tested and have access to preventative measures. So, first order of business, I would restore that funding, and reopen this critical path for prevention and early detection.

I also will work closely with our Congressional delegation to push for restoration of federal funds for HIV/AIDS programs that currently are on the president’s chopping block. In his proposed budget, President Trump has proposed a nearly 17% cut to the CDC’s HIV prevention program, a $59 million cut to the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, and the total elimination of AIDS Education and Training Centers. These are shortsighted cuts that have no root in good public policy.

Your opponent, Kim Guadagno is very well liked within the LGBT community. Please say something nice about her.

PM: I’ve known Kim for many years, and we live only a few miles apart from each other in Monmouth County. Tammy actually was the class mom when two of our children were in school together. Our kids are certainly now older, but have grown up in a world open to LGBT rights that neither she nor I could have imagined at their ages. Having that connection through our kids, and closeness of our communities is something we always smile about, even during the campaign.