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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Murphy likely to campaign in LDs 21, 25

Unclear if governor will stump in 1st, 8th districts

By Nikita Biryukov, October 29 2019 1:25 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy indicated he plans to campaign for Democratic challengers in the 21st and 25th districts before election day.

“I think you can probably expect to see me in and around the 20s over the course of the next week,” Murphy said. “And I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to it.”

Republicans control four districts — the 21st, the 25th, the 24th and the 26th — that number in the 20s, though of those only the 21st and the 25th are hosting truly competitive races this year.

In the 21st, Democrats Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman are seeking to oust Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz.

In the 25th, Darcy Draeger and Lisa Bhimani are running against State Sen. Anthony Bucco and Denville Councilman Brian Bergen.

Bucco was sworn into the Senate last week but remains on the ballot for Assembly.

He does not intend to keep that seat if he wins, and state law bars him from simultaneously holding seats in both chambers of the legislature.

Should Bucco win his Assembly race, he will give up the seat, which will then be filled by a candidate elected by the district’s County Committee people.

Despite the nearness of election day, which is now just one week away, Murphy’s campaign schedule remains largely unclear.

“I basically bounce around the state every day. I’m with Ralph Caputo tonight,” Murphy said. “For my personal GOTV plan that we’re putting the final touches on, it’ll be around the state, it’ll be in different geographies and it’ll be in different districts, meaning standing with someone like Ralph, who’s in incumbent in something that has historically, at least of late, been a more reliably than not Blue seat and blue district, but also standing with some of our challengers in some districts that have not necessarily been home games for us.”

A spokesman for the governor said it was yet to be determined whether he would campaign in the 1st district, where State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak and Assemblymen Matt Milam and Bruce Land face challenges from Cumberland County GOP Chairman Michael Testa, Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan and Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen.

Testa has regularly launched attacks at Andrzejczak over laws enacted under Murphy, and according to a Stockton University Poll released last week, Murphy is less popular there than President Donald Trump.

The governor will be in the 16th district later this week for a governmental event.

There, Assemblymen Andrew Zwicker and Roy Freiman face challenges from former Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire and former Montgomery Mayor Christine Madrid.

It’s unclear whether Murphy intends to campaign in the eighth legislative district, where Democratic challengers Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale face Assemblyman Ryan Peters and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield.

“To be determined,” Murphy said when asked whether he would campaign for LaPlaca and Natale.

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