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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) MenendezTrump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints 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 ClintonRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue 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: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era 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: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Clinton aide: Chances 'highly unlikely' but 'not zero' Hillary will run for president again The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump, Obama head to swing states with Senate majority in balance MORE and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreVoting mentality of seniors shifting ahead of midterms, says Morning Consult editor Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump No, civility isn't optional 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.