TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Democrats and Republicans running for governor and their backers spent the final weekend campaigning at barbecues, festivals and rallies across the state, urging voters to show up to the polls at Tuesday’s primary.
The final push in the roughly yearlong race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Chris Christie comes amid a spate of TV ads in one of only two statewide races in the country this year, along with Virginia.
The six Democrats and five Republicans on the ballot spent the weekend crisscrossing the state.
Experts expect turnout will be low in a race that has seen Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno emerge as front-runners, even as surveys show many residents have not decided who they’ll support.
Murphy appeared at a rally in Plainfield on Saturday with Democratic officials, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who has said voters should back Murphy to combat Republican President Donald Trump’s agenda. More than a dozen of his supporters, wearing blue Murphy T-shirts, gathered in Union County for a get-out-the-vote event in Union County.
Guadagno put on a barbecue with voters in Fair Lawn on Sunday and was in Montville on Saturday where she assisted in cutting a ribbon at a new restaurant.
Democratic candidate Jim Johnson, an attorney and former Clinton administration treasury official, attended a black heritage parade in Montclair on Saturday, wearing a T-shirt that referenced Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a segregated bus.
The shirt read: “‘Nah.’ - Rosa Parks, 1955.”
Democratic state Sen. Ray Lesniak on Sunday donned a “Senator Ray” hat and waved a rainbow flag at an LGBTQ rally in Asbury Park.
Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski sponsored a handful of phone-banking sessions and attended a Polish festival in Middlesex County.
Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli greeted voters at diners in Morris County and sponsored a booth, complete with a Ronald Reagan cutout, at a fair in Somerville.
The four leading Democrats broadly overlap on issues and tout themselves as progressives.
They agree on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, rejoining a regional greenhouse gas initiative, fully funding the public pension, increasing state education aid according to a state Supreme Court-backed formula and opposing Trump in a number of areas, including on sanctuary cities.
The candidates differ on the backgrounds: Murphy is a former Obama administration ambassador to Germany and one-time executive at Goldman Sachs, who has loaned his campaign about $16 million; Johnson worked for more than a decade at a large New York law firm after his time in the Clinton administration; Lesniak and Wisniewski have both served in the Legislature for decades and worked as lawyers.
Guadagno, who has served as the state’s first lieutenant governor for two terms, and Ciattarelli, a lawmaker since 2012 and the owner of a medical publication, disagree on taxes. Guadagno has pledged to never raise them. Ciattarelli says he wants to lower tax burdens overall but has called for raising rates on high-income earners.
Democrats Bill Brennan and Tenafly council member Mark Zinna are also on the ballot; Republicans Steve Rogers, Joseph “Rudy” Rullo and Hirsh Singh will be up for a vote as well.
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