Election day in New Jersey: What you need to know about Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary

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NEW JERSEY — Eleven Democrats and Republicans will be competing in Tuesday's primary to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie in November’s general election.

There are six Democrats - including one Christie called a "knucklehead" and another he called a fraud - and five Republicans on the ballot.  The winners will face off in a November election that will decide who replaces the term-limited Christie.

Former Vice President Joe Biden recently called the off-year election the most important in the country over the next three years.

Here's a closer look at all of the candidates:


William Brennan: Brennan is a former Teaneck firefighter with a law degree who earned 15 minutes of fame by bringing a citizens complaint against Christie. Brennan alleged Christie violated the state’s official misconduct law by failing to reopen the George Washington Bridge during the 2013 lane-closure scandal. Brennan’s case fizzled after the county prosecutor declined to pursue the suit.

Christie says he has no admiration for Bill Brennan. He even called him a "jerk" and a "knucklehead."

Jim Johnson: Johnson is a former federal prosecutor in New York and Clinton administration Treasury official. His campaign has gained some traction, qualifying for public matching funds. He’s gotten about $900,000 in matching funds so far, according to state election officials.

Ray Lesniak: Lesniak is a long-time state senator and attorney whose base of support is mostly in Union County, which he’s represented in the Legislature for nearly four decades.

Phil Murphy: Murphy, the leading Democratic candidate, served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013 and earned a fortune as an executive at Goldman Sachs. He was also the Democratic National Committee Finance chairman under Howard Dean. He’s earned the backing of influential county party officials, unions and elected officials and pledged $10 million of his own money to the campaign.

Christie called Murphy, a Democratic front runner, a fraud. He's also been attacked by his opponents because of his Wall Street background.

John Wisniewski: Wisniewski has served in the Assembly for two decades and co-chaired the Legislature’s investigation into the George Washington Bridge scandal. Wisniewski was U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign chairman in last year’s primary and is aiming to capture Sanders’ supporters in the primary. He has also qualified for public funds by reaching the $430,000 threshold.

Mark Zinna: Zinna is a Tenafly council member and the owner of a data-mining company. His campaign is focusing on what he calls the corrupt political system and is calling for open primaries, in which the state’s millions of unaffiliated voters could participate. Currently only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in the primary.


Jack Ciattarelli: Ciattarelli, a certified public accountant who owns a medical publishing company, has served in the Assembly since 2012. He qualified for public matching funds and has won the influential county party line in several places, including Burlington, Essex and Somerset.

Kim Guadagno: Guadagno has served as Christie’s lieutenant governor — the first in state history — since winning election in 2009. She is the party’s front-runner, racking up key endorsements and winning the party line in the state’s GOP hotbeds in Monmouth and Ocean counties. She gained a reputation as the administration’s ambassador to the business world. She also has qualified for public funds and has received more than $800,000, according to state election officials.

While Guadagno is the leading Republican to succeed Christie in Tuesday's primary, she's had to work hard to highlight her differences with a governor whose popularity took a beating from the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal and a failed presidential run eventually won by fellow Republican Donald Trump.

Steven Rogers: Rogers is a commissioner in Nutley and a stout supporter of President Donald Trump, unlike Ciattarelli and Guadagno. He also regularly appeared on Fox News as a commentator.

Joseph Rullo: Rullo owns a landscaping business in Ocean County and is also a Trump supporter. Echoing Trump’s drain-the swamp pledge, Rullo adopted “Drain the Swamp in Trenton” as his official ballot slogan.

Hirsh Singh: Singh is an engineer and Egg Harbor Township native who has embraced some of Christie’s policies, including his proposal to spend an equal amount of state aid per student, which would mean a reduction for poorer districts.

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