Christie Woes Hurt Guadagno Campaign

By John Celock

A new poll shows that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) unpopularity has pulled down Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s campaign to succeed him.

An NBC News/Marist Poll released Thursday shows that Guadagno trails Democrat Phil Murphy 54 percent to 33 percent, while 81 percent of those surveyed want a governor who will move the state in a different direction. The poll comes as Guadagno seeks to boost her campaign against Murphy, who has led in polls since being picked by Democratic Party leaders last year.

The poll showed that 44 percent of those surveyed had not heard of Murphy, compared to 49 percent who had not heard of Guadagno, who is in her second term as lieutenant governor. Thirty four percent of those surveyed have a positive impression of Murphy, with 22 percent saying they had a negative opinion. Twenty seven percent had an unfavorable view of Guadagno compared to 24 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of the Republican.

With 12 percent of those surveyed saying they wanted a governor who would govern like Christie, 71 percent said that they believed that New Jersey was on the wrong track, with 21 percent saying that the state is on the right track.

The negative impression of Christie comes as the two-term governor’s ratings with the public continue to plummet following his landslide reelection four years ago. Christie’s ratings have taken hits from the Bridgegate scandal, his frequent absences from the state to pursue his national political ambitions and his decision earlier this month to vacation at a state owned beach house while the beach was closed to the public during the state government shutdown.

Guadagno has sought to distance herself from Christie, including opposing Christie’s push for a hike in the state’s gas tax and decision to renovate parts of the Statehouse in Trenton. Guadagno has also publicly opposed President Donald Trump, in contrast to Christie’s strong support for Trump. Guadagno has also called for the sale of the governor’s official beach house, calling Christie’s decision to vacation at the house, “beyond words.”

At the same time, Guadagno has sought to play up her record in two terms as lieutenant governor and secretary of state, including her work on economic development and frequent travels around the state.

Murphy, an investment banker and former ambassador to Germany, has sought to position himself as a progressive alternative for the state, including developing alliances with many of those who have long been opposed to Christie, including the New Jersey Education Association. Murphy virtually gained the Democratic nomination last year after party leaders coalesed around his candidacy, a move that pushed Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and Senate President Steve Sweeney out of the race.

The poll comes a week before Murphy and Guadagno face their next big decision in the race, the announcement of their running mates for lieutenant governor.