Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno was squarely in her comfort zone touring a pharmaceutical company that’s developing a new manufacturing plant in Warren County and inquiring about their business needs.
It’s the same task Guadagno has performed for Gov. Chris Christie over the past eight years. But the candidate, who’s 16 points behind Democratic opponent Phil Murphy in the latest Suffolk University/USA Today Poll, is trying hard to distance herself from the deeply unpopular Christie.
Murphy keeps connecting the dots. Monday, his campaign noted, “As an assistant United States attorney in 1998, Guadagno was reprimanded by a federal judge for leaking grand jury information” and pointed to Christie’s recent comments about grand jury leaks in the ongoing investigation by special council Robert Mueller.
“There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Depending on who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime,” said Christie.
When asked about Gov. Christie’s remarks, Guadagno replied, “Both Phil and Christie together on the gas tax and now together on bringing up a 1998 case where I put three individuals in jail after a federal trial for three years for trying to bribe a lottery official. I think I did the right thing for the people of the state of New Jersey. They went to jail.”
The campaign staff ended the Q&A there. In a statement, spokesperson Ricky Diaz said Guadagno followed the law and accused Murphy of “desperately recycling decades-old false allegations to distract from his support of tax hikes and a sanctuary state.”
But as the campaign heads into its final week, Guadagno faces serious challenges. Several polls show women voters concerned over their economic vulnerability and a shredding social safety net favor Murphy by double digits.
“Women, when they get a chance to look at the Asbury Park Press and Daily Record, look at what I represent versus what a Goldman Sachs millionaire represents and what he’s promised, I think they’ll come home, and understand that they’ll vote their pocketbook. And if they vote their pocketbooks, they’ll vote for Kim Guadagno,” she said.
Guadagno connected with veterans at a VFW in Phillipsburg. She has a son in the Air Force.
“She’s tagged to Christie and everybody thinks she is his pawn. She’s not — she’s her own person. She loves our our state, she loves our veterans and our people,” said ‘Blue Star’ mother Diane Malanga.
During these final days of the campaign, Guadagno will hit the road and take a bus tour of all 21 New Jersey counties. She’ll be pushing the Republican base to show up at the polls on Nov. 7. Projected voter turnout in this chaotic Trumpian political world is not easy to estimate.