TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey voters go to the polls Tuesday to pick the successor to Republican Gov. Chris Christie and a new Legislature. They’ll also weigh in on how much money should be spent from the funds collected from lawsuit settlements involving the cleanup of natural resources and whether to approve borrowing for libraries.
Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno are the two top party candidates for governor. Five third-party and independent candidates also are on the ballot.
Experts expect the Democrat-led Legislature to remain under the party’s control.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. across the state.
A closer look at Election Day:
Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and Obama administration ambassador to Germany, has led Guadagno in polls and fundraising. He has never held office before but served as Democratic National Committee finance chairman under Howard Dean.
His campaign revolves around fully funding the public pension and schools. He’s promised to jump-start the state’s economy but has offered scant specifics on how to achieve that. He has said he would raise taxes by $1.3 billion to help pay for his program changes. That includes hiking income taxes on millionaires, legalizing and taxing marijuana and closing corporate tax loopholes.
Guadagno has promised not to run for re-election if she doesn’t lower property taxes. Her plan calls for capping the school portion of property taxes at 5 percent of income, limited to $3,000 in credits. Recently, she’s centered her campaign on banning sanctuary cities.
One of the most closely contested races is in southern New Jersey’s 3rd District, where powerful Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney faces a Republican challenger with the backing of a well-heeled labor union.
Republican Fran Grenier has the support of the New Jersey Education Association, which has spent more than $4 million to try to oust Sweeney. The union fell out with Sweeney after he failed to post for a vote a proposed constitutional amendment requiring quarterly pension payments.
Aside from that race, voters in the state’s 40 districts will select one state senator and two assembly members apiece. Democrats currently control 52 of 80 Assembly seats and 24 of 40 Senate posts.
Voters also will decide whether to approve $125 million in new borrowing for library construction. A second ballot question asks if voters want all the cash from natural resources settlements to go toward site cleanups. Under current law, the first $50 million goes to cleanup with the rest going to the budget’s general fund.
New Jersey’s top law enforcement officer says scores of deputy attorneys general will be assigned throughout the state to ensure the integrity of the election.
About 250 lawyers will be assigned throughout the state to assist county election officials in any voting-related legal issues, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.
Porrino noted that it’s a criminal offense to solicit voters within the 100-foot zone at polling sites.
Anyone can call 1-877-NJVOTER to report problems or concerns at polling places.