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Rep. Andy Kim. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Kim not ready to back Murphy re-election

Congressman wants to secure second term before discussing 2021 race

By Nikita Biryukov, September 04 2019 12:40 pm

Rep. Andy Kim declined to endorse Gov. Phil Murphy for re-election Wednesday, saying he’d prefer to wait for the conclusion of his 2020 re-election race before weighing in on a race that will take place the following year.

“Look, my re-election’s before his, so let me just take it one step at a time,” Kim told reporters following an unrelated event on gun violence on Wednesday.

Murphy campaigned for Kim during his 2018 campaign to flip New Jersey’s 3rd district.  Both the governor and First Lady Tammy Murphy made appearances in the district during the final week of the race.

The third congressional district, which Kim represents, covers most of Burlington County and a sizeable chunk of Ocean County, which is perhaps New Jersey’s stoutest Republican stronghold.

Though the governor continues to be popular in the state, that popularity is largely split along party lines.

According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released in June, the current governor boasts approvals of 42%-32%. Close to a third of voters reported not knowing who Murphy is.

The poll found that Democrats approved of Murphy 61%-16%. His approval among Republicans, at 15%-63%, was roughly the opposite. Independents approved of the governor 39%-28%.

Kim’s House victory last year was the narrowest in the state. He beat Rep. Tom MacArthur by fewer than 4,000 votes, beating the two-term Republican congressman by a little more than a point thanks to a huge margin in the Burlington County portions of the district.

MacArthur racked up a similar but slightly smaller margin in Ocean County.

The National Republican Congressional Committee put Kim’s district, as well as those won by New Jersey’s three other congressional freshmen and that of Rep. Josh Gottheimer, on its 2020 target list.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story understated the level of engagement by Murphy on behalf of Kim.

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