Gubernatorial candidates make final push before primary day

NJ Spotlight News | June 5, 2017 | Politics
Gubernatorial candidates were filling their schedules ahead of primary day.

For a crowded field of candidates who’d replace Gov. Chris Christie tomorrow’s a make or break day. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans and Independent voters outnumber them all, New Jersey primary voters will elect their party’s nominees for the most powerful governor’s post in the nation. Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron has a preview.

Mary Alice, we touched base with all six of the major candidates’ campaigns today.

Phil Murphy was at the Rutherford train station early this morning, then stopped in East Orange and Irvington, with a rally tonight in Asbury Park. He was the subject of two hit pieces this weekend.

The Wisniewski campaign accused him of hypocrisy for being against corporate tax breaks as a candidate, but not when his firm Goldman Sachs was getting hundreds of millions in tax breaks from Jersey City.

The Johnson campaign linked Murphy to exploitation of Asian workers in the shoe trade when Murphy was president of Goldman Sachs Asia.

The Murphy campaign replied to both of those stories: “Desperate candidates do desperate things.”

Murphy says he has three worries for tomorrow: weather, turnout and undecideds.

John Wisniewski was at the Hoboken train station at 7 this morning, with six stops scheduled after that. His camp says it is outspending Phil Murphy on TV ads this final week. The Murphy camp disputes that.

“It’s a late-breaking electorate,” the Wisniewski camp says.

Murphy, they say, is counting on the support of the party organizations, but “we live in a different age.”

Jim Johnson was in Atlantic City and Camden today. His camp says it’s optimistic. They think they have a good get-out-the-vote operation.

They say they’re outspending Murphy on TV if you throw in Wisniewski’s anti-Murphy buy.

They’re counting on the undecideds. “People are responding to Jim,” they say.

Ray Lesniak’s schedule had him at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton this afternoon, followed by a Facebook live town hall tonight.

Lesniak said it’s totally impossible to tell who will win tomorrow, but that “Murphy is tanking.”

The Goldman Sachs connection is hurting Murphy, Lesniak said, and it will hurt him again in the fall if he’s the nominee.

On the Republican side, Kim Guadagno’s campaign says she was doing her day job today, lieutenant governor, and didn’t want to cheat the taxpayers.

She has a rally at her headquarters in West Long Branch tonight. She campaigned all weekend, largely in the big counties, they said. They say her campaign is enjoying seeing Phil Murphy being attacked on TV by his fellow Democrats.

Of her opponent, Jack Ciatterelli, they say his attacks on Guadagno “are not resonating.”

Ciatterelli campaigned up and down the shore today, then inland, seven stops in all with a headquarters rally in Somerville tonight.

His campaign says it’s optimistic. “We’ve run the better race and we have the better candidate,” one said.

Ciatterelli is being outspent by Guadagno nearly 2 to 1, but the Ciattarelli camp says Guadagno just bought $146,000 of time on New York broadcast TV, which they see as a sign she may be running scared.

So, that’s where things stand on primary eve.