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May 29, 2017

Biden: New Jersey race for governor 'most important' in United States

As the clock ticks down on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's second term in office, voters in the Garden State will turn their attention to the June 6 primary election to pick his successor. 

Christie's popularity has been spiraling for much of the past two years, bottoming out with a nosedive that found 71 percent of New Jersey voters disapproved of his job performance in April. That makes him the most unpopular governor in the country. It also suggests things can only improve for the people of New Jersey. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden entered the fray of the gubernatorial race on Sunday with a ringing endorsement of Democratic candidate Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany during the Obama administration. Speaking at a community center, Biden championed Murphy's experience and said the election will have wide-ranging implications. 

"This is the single most important race in the country in the next three years, before the presidential race" Biden told the crowd. "Let me tell you why I say that. There are other important states, but this is an off-year election for the fourth largest state in America. And the whole country — and without exaggeration, the world — is going to look. They’re going to look to decide whether or not America has bought into this crass and mean-spirited and negative and uncomfortable rhetoric that we have been subjected to these last 10 months, or whether we're ready to reestablish and assert who were are.”

In the Democratic field, Murphy will go up against former treasurer official Jim Johnson, state senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblyman Jon Wisniewski. His campaign has been centered on curbing gun violence, rolling back PARCC and other standardized testing, improving the state of NJ Transit and addressing the state's financial health, which has been dragged down by a severely underfunded public pension system. 

Much of Biden's endorsement of Murphy focused on his understanding of the economy and his ability to craft sensible tax reform for the middle class. Murphy, addressing the crowd, pledged to challenge the policies of President Trump. 

“All the while, while we’re fighting to undo the damage that Governor Christie has done, we’re going to have to deal with a hostile administration coming out of Washington,” Murphy said. “We're going to need a governor — and I will be that governor — with a steel backbone who says, ‘Mr. President, Mr. Trump, not in New Jersey will you do that.'”

A Stockton University poll released last week found Murphy maintaining a significant lead among his Democratic counterparts, holding 34 percent of respondents compared to Johnson's 10 percent and Wisniewski's 9 percent. On the Republican side, current New Jersey Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno held 37 percent of respondents, up from 29 percent in a poll last month. Her closest competitor is entrepreneur Jack Ciattarelli, who garnered 18 percent of respondents in the Stockton poll. 

"We've got to make it clear," Biden told the crowd. We've got to make it clear to this president—and clear to everbody—we are no longer going to stand around and wait. We are no longer going to wait."