Last-minute primer for New Jersey governor’s race


With the election to replace maligned Gov. Chris Christie coming up Tuesday, Nov. 7, here is a look at the candidates and where they stand on various issues affecting the state and its citizens.

File photo: Kim Guadagno in Hoboken

One of the biggest issues facing Republican candidate and current lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno is escaping the legacy of Christie, the lowest rated governor in state history, and his political retaliations that made national headlines. In a recent debate, Guadagno stated: “The inconvenient truth for Phil is that Chris Christie’s not on the ballot — I am.” To which Democratic candidate Phil Murphy responded: “Chris Christie’s record is your record, lieutenant governor. You’ve been beside him every step of the way.”

Murphy is currently ahead of Kim Guadagno, 48.6 percent to 33 percent, in a recent poll conducted by Suffolk University and the USA Today Network. Another poll, conducted by Quinnipiac, shows Guadagno in a major hole with women voters, which could hurt her bid to become the second woman governor in New Jersey history. A full 65 percent of women voters surveyed said they would vote for Murphy while only 29 percent said they would vote for Guadagno.

Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino with NJ Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy. Photo by Caroline Novack.
Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino with NJ Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy. Photo by Caroline Novack.

On LGBT issues, Murphy has received the endorsement of Garden State Equality as well as LPAC, the nation’s only lesbian political action committee. In addition to those, he’s had endorsements from former Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama, as well as having had former Vice President Joe Biden speak for him at a campaign stop.

Here’s our Out In Jersey brief look at how each candidate will approach some of the vital issues facing the Garden State and its residents.

Taxes: Guadagno has said she will veto any tax increases and cap the school portion of property tax bills at 5 percent. Murphy supports a millionaire’s tax, eliminating corporate tax loopholes and restoring property tax rebates.

Pensions: Christie made minimal contributions to a public pension system that has been left in shambles by more than 20 years of mishandling. Guadagno has said current pension commitments will be honored but she will look to renegotiate new employee contributions, making it similar to a 401(k) type of system. Murphy said he will fully fund public employee pensions and health insurance.

Gun laws: New Jersey is among the strictest in the nation and Guadagno has said she feels no new regulations are necessary. Murphy has vowed to sign all bills previously vetoed by Christie that would further tighten the Garden State’s laws.

Legalizing marijuana: Though Guadagno is not in favor of legalizing marijuana, she is in favor of decriminalizing it and expanding the state’s medical marijuana program. Murphy fully supports the legalization of marijuana, especially since it’s projected to generate over $300 million in new tax revenue for the state while freeing police up to put more focus on violent crimes.

Immigration/sanctuary: Murphy has said he will make New Jersey a sanctuary state and defends its “Dreamers.” Guadagno, who has taken a page from President Trump’s scare tactics on immigrants, has said she will encourage the United States Congress to fix the problem. She has remained noncommittal on “Dreamers.”

Out In Jersey magazine contributor J.L. Gaynor spent eight years in the newsrooms of two major New Jersey papers. A Jersey girl through and through: born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. Jen now lives in Maryland and has two dogs she adores, and reads just about anything she can get her hands on.