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) MenendezCNN anchors break into laughter over comedian's alleged prank call to Trump Comedian claims he tricked Trump while impersonating Dem senator Schumer: Obama 'very amenable' to helping Senate Dems in midterms 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 ClintonState Dept: Russia’s allegations about American citizens ‘absolutely absurd’ Trump on possible sit-down with Mueller: 'I've always wanted to do an interview' Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas 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) SandersElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas House Dems launching Medicare for All Caucus Let's remove the legal shield from hackers who rob us of our civil rights 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 BidenElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Hoping to catch fire, House Dems eye White House Dems look for candidate who will punch Trump ‘square in the face’ MORE and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreAl Gore warns of 'ominous' record-breaking heat Colbert to Kennedy on retirement: Don't tell me your mind's going because 'you never had one!' Budowsky: Obama remains AWOL for Dems 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.