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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) MenendezTrump appointee sparks bipartisan furor for politicizing media agency Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump 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 ClintonGorsuch rejects Minnesota Republican's request to delay House race Biden leads Trump by 6 points in Nevada: poll The Memo: Women could cost Trump reelection 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 SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom 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 BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreKeep calm and let the election officials carry on Fox News president warns of calling winner too soon on election night: 2000 still 'lingers over everyone' Older voters helped put Trump in office; they will help take him out 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.