Fresh off her campaign bus, Kim Guadagno rolled into the Randolph Diner in reliably Republican Morris County, where her boss, Gov. Chris Christie, was re-elected by a whopping 60,000 votes four years ago. Guadagno posed for selfies and cheered the troops trying to rally her base. Some posed questions in the wake of Sunday’s Texas church massacre, including questioning her stance on gun control.
“On gun control, we have the third most restrictive gun laws in this country. But also I believe, quite frankly that the death penalty, in cases like we saw yesterday, or what we saw in NYC two weeks ago, might be appropriate at this point,” she said.
“I think some answers are given to persuade people to vote the way you think they want to vote,” said Courtney Spellman of Randolph.
“Oh, I like the answers, yes. I’m going to vote for her,” said Randolph resident Marie Potter.
Damaged by her connection to the deeply unpopular Christie, Guadagno lagged in the polls, but Monday claimed she’s gaining momentum, cutting significantly into opponent Phil Murphy’s double digit lead, according to a new Quinnipiac Poll. It shows Murphy’s ahead by 12 points, that compared to a 20-point margin in its Oct. 25 survey. The spin?
“The numbers show that Phil Murphy’s in free fall, quite frankly,” said Guadagno. “To move the numbers in a little more than a week, from 20 to 12, even in a Quinnipiac Poll, shows you we have the right message at the right time and that people don’t want to pay more taxes in New Jersey and they certainly don’t want a sanctuary state.”
“Phil Murphy’s lead has been cut to 12 points. But 12 points is a lot of points with 24 hours to go,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
The poll also shows Guadagno is 24 points behind with women and needs to do better with independents.
“Basically, independents are splitting down the middle, give or take a point or two. That’s not good news for the lieutenant governor,” said Brown.
Guadagno garnered endorsements this weekend from former New Jersey Republican Govs. Christie Whitman and Tom Kean, both of whom won close elections. Kean advised voters to ignore Chris Christie.
“It’s not about Chris Christie. It’s about Kim Guadagno. And that’s who people are going to vote for,” said Kean.
Analysts say success in this election will hinge on voter turnout. And Guadagno is paying people $10 an hour to help get out the vote. But Phil Murphy’s got a lot more money, and a formidable Democratic machine at his disposal.