NJ primary day: who is vying to unseat Gov. Murphy?

New Jersey Elections

CRANFORD, N.J. — It is primary day in New Jersey, with all 120 seats in both chambers of the state legislature up for grabs. 

However, the big focus is on which Republican will challenge New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy as he seeks a second term.

Garden State voters are not afraid to elect a Republican to lead them as governor, despite the state being comprised of majority Democrats. Seeking to replace Murphy, who does not have a primary opponent on the ballot, are four Republicans.

Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli has a fundraising advantage and the endorsement of county parties across the state. There is also pastor and political newcomer Phil Rizzo, engineer Hirsh Singh, who has run unsuccessfully for multiple offices in recent years, and former Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine. Each generally supports the policies of former President Trump, though some have backed away from his rhetoric.

Cranford, New Jersey Republican voter Wally Shackell said that as a voter, those differences are not front of mind.

“Had no role in my decision whatsoever,” said Shackell, who sees the race as a referendum on Gov. Murphy’s handling of the pandemic. “The shutdown went on way too long, in most Republican’s views,” he said. 

But even Republicans like Craig Furer told PIX11 News that the primary and coming general election this November is not just about the pandemic.

“Taxes, followed by taxes and then taxes,” Furer said of his top issues. “The state needs to figure out how to make it affordable for the next generation.”

Voting runs until 8 p.m. Tuesday and results may lag because many are still opting to vote with drop boxes or mail-in ballots.

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