Phil Murphy, the former Goldman Sachs executive who was heavily backed by public employee unions in his primary bid to represent Democrats in this year’s gubernatorial race, secured his party’s nomination Tuesday night, but the race was close in Ocean County.
Murphy and challenger Assemblyman John Wisniewski were within 1 point of each other by the time all of the results were registered in the Ocean County Clerk’s office. Wisniewski, who channeled Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his campaign strategy and platform, received 6,614 votes compared to Murphy’s 6,967 in Ocean County. Statewide, Murphy received 237,728 votes compared to Wisniewski’s 107,135.
The results – statewide, Murphy received less than 50 percent of the total Democratic vote in a field of six candidates – show a split in the Democratic party, primarily due to Murphy’s ties to Wall Street. That same connection could help funnel some undecided voters to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in the general election. Guadagno won her party’s nomination and strongly won Ocean County GOP support Tuesday.
Guadagno, who has maintained a strong relationship with Ocean County Republicans – especially the Brick Township GOP organization – received 17,966 votes, or 59 percent of the total GOP vote. Her closest competitor, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, received 5,917 votes. Statewide, the Republican race was closer: Guadagno garnered 47 percent of the vote and Ciattarelli received 31 percent. Like the Democrats, GOP voters were also split – some along ideological lines and some who felt Guadagno’s candidacy could be negatively affected by her ties to Gov. Chris Christie, whose poll numbers are at record lows.