Guadagno’s Out-of-Context Campaign Ad Draws Firestorm of Criticism

Lee Keough, Colleen O'Dea | October 13, 2017 | Elections 2017
Lieutenant governor’s TV spot falsely accuses opponent Phil Murphy as ‘having the back’ of convicted killer and undocumented immigrant

Jose Carranza
An advertisement from Republican candidate Kim Guadagno has become a controversial flashpoint in the gubernatorial campaign, as she accuses her Democratic opponent Phil Murphy as “having the back” of a convicted murderer who happens to be an undocumented immigrant. Latinos, legislators, and union leaders loudly denounced the latest ad from New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s campaign as dishonest, race baiting, and fear mongering.

The ad, titled “Sanctuary,” begins with the story of an undocumented immigrant who had raped a child and shot four young adults in Newark. Then it cuts to a clip from a town hall Murphy did at Rutgers University last month that was carried on Facebook. A narrator says, “When asked about deporting criminal illegals, Phil Murphy said,” and then it shows Murphy tweaking his signature campaign line and saying, “My bias is going to be having their back.”

That takes the actual exchange between Murphy and Star-Ledger Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran out of context. Moran had asked for Murphy’s feelings about current state policy to notify immigration authorities when an undocumented person is accused of a felony or drunk driving, and Murphy’s answer to that question was, “I want to be honest to everyone. When I have the answer, I will give it. This is the first time I’ve ever been asked it.” He then went on to say that he thinks “the field has been so tilted against the Dreamers, against immigrants, my bias is going to be having their back.”

In announcing the ad, Guadagno said in a statement, “By making New Jersey a sanctuary state, Phil Murphy is saying he would rather protect dangerous criminals and murderers like Jose Carranza than stand up for the law abiding people of New Jersey.”

“It’s the lowest of the low,” said Murphy. “She conflates someone accused of a heinous crime with a whole class of people, immigrants in New Jersey. He’s a criminal who should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law” Murphy said, not be made to represent the state’s entire hard-working Latino community

“Shame on Kim Guadagno for stooping to race baiting and fear-mongering to boost her fading campaign for governor,” said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families. “Kim Guadagno’s ‘Sanctuary’ campaign ad traffics in racist tropes instead of facts. She is unfit to lead one of the most diverse states in the nation. One in five voters in New Jersey is an immigrant or a child of immigrants. Every single one of them should take note of the hate the lieutenant governor is directing at them.

“As a former law enforcement official, Guadagno should know better, that lack of trust between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect decreases safety for all,” continued Mejia. “Everyone is safer when local police focus on local law enforcement versus federal immigration laws.”

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, agreed. “Creating incendiary baseless attacks only serve to distract us from the real issues that need to be discussed,” he said “These Trump-like tactics do not belong in New Jersey period”

“She’s given up the truth,” added Murphy. “It’s crazy but that’s what you do when you have the record that she and Chris Christie have.”

It’s unclear where the ad may be running at the moment. It is on the Guadagno campaign’s YouTube page, where the 30-second spot had about 4,400 views late last night. Of those who registered an opinion, 11 had given it a thumbs up, while 46 gave it a thumbs down.