Gov. Phil Murphy was in Hudson County on Friday to shore up the Democratic stronghold ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Murphy, after making a governmental stop at a school opening in Secaucus, spent much of the late afternoon walking the streets of Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne to stump for Menendez.
The governor wouldn’t say if he was worried about voters Menendez’s home county being put off by the senator’s ethics troubles and not turning out for his race against Bob Hugin, but he acknowledged the reality of the ballots in those towns.
“Simple math for me,” Murphy said. “First of all, Bob Menendez has huge support in Hudson County, but the reality is there isn’t a lot of competitive down-ballot races in Hudson County, so turnout, getting folks to get out, is going to be the key. I think the reception so far is really good.”
Unlike other Democratic strongholds in the state, there isn’t a competitive House race in Hudson to push up Democratic turnout, and there are few local races, aside from some school board races, to mobilize the county’s voters.
Much of the county’s political drama — including a county chairman race and a Democratic fight over Bayonne’s mayorship — was settled over the summer
That fact has some Democrats worried that low turnout in Hudson could cut into Menendez’s margins come Tuesday, making his uncharacteristically close race against Hugin even tighter.
Murphy wasn’t alone during any of his three political stops of the day.
In Hoboken, he was joined by Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro, Rep. Albio Sires and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. The latter two are closely allied with Menendez.
In Bayonne, which Murphy last campaigned in when he was still running for governor in July of 2017, there were appearances by State Sen. Sandra Cunningham and the city’s council members.
He stood alongside Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis during the latter’s reelection campaign this summer. He said then, and maintained Friday, that that event wasn’t at all political.
Hudson County Democratic Chairwoman Amy DeGise and a handful of local officials joined Murphy when he walked Jersey City.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop was notably absent during the Jersey City leg of Murphy’s tour. That, coupled with grumblings from some Hudson Democrats about a lack of effort behind a get out the vote campaign on Fulop’s end, could have the once rising star’s political fortunes drop yet further.
Turnout there might not suffer much for it. It’s not as though the city — or the county in general — has any shortage of operatives.