Dem Murphy wins New Jersey governor's race

Dem Murphy wins New Jersey governor's race
© Getty

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) MenendezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times 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 ClintonTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Trump's approval rating stable at 45 percent Kellyanne Conway: 'I think my gender helps me with the president' MORE in 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT

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) SandersWarren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses RNC says it raised .6 million in February Pollster says 'it's certainly not looking good' for Trump ahead of 2020 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 BidenPollster says 'it's certainly not looking good' for Trump ahead of 2020 Republican strategist predicts his 2020 Dem primary final four The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump feuds heat up MORE and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreKamala Harris says she is open to abolishing Electoral College Dem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived in sin' as way to perpetuate slavery O'Rourke sees 'a lot of wisdom' in abolishing Electoral College 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.