C hristie, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016, can’t run again due to a term limits law, but his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, seems to be suffering for his sins.

Guadagno trails the Democratic candidate, former US ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, by 14 points two weeks before the November 7 general election, a steady double-digit lead he has maintained for months.

Murphy has successfully saddled Guadagno with all that ails New Jersey, including a consistent underfunding of the state’s public pension system, which has led to a downgrading of its credit rating 11 times during Christie’s tenure.

Jewish voters, who look to be a nonfactor in the race, make up about 6% of the electorate. Still, both Guadagno and Murphy appreciate the importance of the Jewish vote and have invested in outreach to the community.



Phil Murphy

In addition to serving as US Ambassador to Germany under President Obama, Murphy is also a former banking executive with Goldman Sachs with a reported personal net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He has visited Israel six times, including a recent trip this summer.

Advantage: Almost 4 in 10 Jewish voters supported Christie in his first election, but the Jewish electorate may also be looking for a change. Obama and Hillary Clinton both campaigned for Murphy, energizing the liberal base.

Advantage: Murphy has promised to appoint a new executive director to the New Jersey–Israel Commission and increase its funding to promote trade. He also penned an op-ed criticizing residents of Mahwah, New Jersey, for creating an “overarching perception of anti-Semitism and discrimination” after they rejected an eiruv for Orthodox Jewish residents. “That’s a very positive step,” said Avi Schnall, Agudath Israel’s New Jersey director. Murphy also visited the frum community in Lakewood last week.

Disadvantage: Murphy is a Democrat and remains largely unknown to the community. When it comes to social issues or education, Orthodox Jewish voters align themselves more closely with the Republican Party’s platform.

Disadvantage: Murphy’s running mate, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, was one of three New Jersey legislators who opposed a bill that bars New Jersey from investing state pension funds in companies that boycott Israel. The bill was signed into law earlier this year by Governor Chris Christie. Murphy said he would have signed the bill if he was governor.



Kim Guadagno

Guadagno, 58, previously served as a sheriff of Monmouth County and as an assistant US attorney for the eastern district of New York and the state of New Jersey.

Advantage: Guadagno is a strong supporter of school choice and vouchers. On the campaign trail, she promoted her plan to reduce state property taxes by capping levies at 5 percent of income. “We believe that Kim Guadagno is the best choice for the Jewish community,” Mark Levenson, a longtime Jewish leader and a Guadagno supporter, told Mishpacha. “Her support for issues that are of concern to us, on a community and Jewish institutions level, as well as on Israel, are very strong.”

Advantage: Guadagno was a strong supporter of New Jersey’s anti-BDS legislation. In a recent interview, she pledged she would create an “Office of Innovation,” a cabinet level position, to boost New Jersey’s economy. “I would charge the person who heads the office to look at the Israel plan as a roadmap to creating new jobs,” she told the New Jersey Business magazine.

Disadvantage: Her running mate, Woodcliff Lake mayor Carlos Rendo, allegedly said that an Orthodox Jewish organization, Valley Chabad, wanted to turn his town into a “little Jerusalem” and helped block their attempts to build a new shul, according to a lawsuit filed last year. Rendo denies the allegations. Murphy blasted his Republican rival for refusing to “criticize racist and anti-Semitic speech.”

Disadvantage: The incumbent governor’s anemic approval rating, her cold ties with the Trump administration, and her unfamiliarity to New Jersey voters despite eight years at Christie’s side, have contributed to an enthusiasm deficit among Republican and independent voters.


Prediction

Thirteen percent of New Jersey’s electorate remains undecided… (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 682)