Dem Murphy wins New Jersey governor's race

Dem Murphy wins New Jersey governor's race
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Democrat Phil Murphy is projected to win the New Jersey governor’s race, according to multiple networks.

Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany, defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), who struggled to gain traction in the race.

Murphy's victory will also help Democrats maintain control of Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE's (D-N.J.) seat if he's convicted in his trial. If Menendez resigns from office, New Jersey's governor will be tasked with appointing his replacement. 

Murphy had long been the favorite in the race, thanks to a Democratic electorate and New Jersey backing Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE in 2016.

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Guadagno faced headwinds from President Trump's unpopularity in the state, while also being saddled with outgoing Gov. Chris Christie's (R) historically low approval ratings.

Murphy maintained a consistent double-digit lead throughout the entire general election. Enjoying a comfortable lead, Murphy campaigned on liberal issues instead of pivoting to the center to court more moderate voters.

Murphy never won the endorsement of Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.), but the New Jersey Democrat supported similar issues that Sanders touted during his 2016 presidential campaign. Murphy campaigned on a single-payer health-care system, a minimum wage hike to $15 and free tuition to public college and trade schools

Guadagno focused heavily on lowering New Jersey's high property taxes, but her campaign didn't appear to catch fire with voters. In the final month of the campaign, Guadagno veered more to the right to rally conservative base voters and seized on Murphy's comments that he'd be open to making New Jersey a "sanctuary state."

Even with Murphy's solid lead in the polls, Democrats didn't take any chances and brought out political heavy-hitters to the campaign trail. The star-studded roster included former Presidents Obama and Clinton and former Vice Presidents Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenOvernight Tech: FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices | Biden scolds social media firms over transparency Medicaid funds shouldn't be used to subsidize state taxes on health care Biden hits social media firms over lack of transparency MORE and Al GoreAl GoreTrump’s isolationism on full display at international climate talks Overnight Energy: Trump officials defend fossil fuels, nuclear at UN climate summit | Dems commit to Paris goals | Ex-EPA lawyers slam 'sue and settle' policy Al Gore: A new president in 2020 could keep US in Paris agreement MORE.

Given New Jersey's blue electorate, Democrats likely won't see the race as proof of a building wave for the 2018 midterms. Still, Murphy's victory helps Democrats start to chip away at the GOP's strong grip on the majority of governor's mansions across the U.S.