NEW JERSEY ELECTION 2021

Who is running for governor in New Jersey?

Voters from the Garden State are heading to the polls to decide who will lead the state for the next four years. So, who are the candidates for governor?

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Who is running for governor in New Jersey?
EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ AFP

Voters in New Jersey have a choice of five candidates, and their running mates, to lead the state for the next four years. However, the two main contenders are the incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli.

Governor Murphy will be defending his record in a state that rarely re-elects Democratic governors. His main challenger former state Assemblyman Ciattarelli is hoping that voters won’t associate him with former President Trump who lost the state by almost 16 points.

Election Day is 2 November 2021 but for the first time, voters can cast their ballot early. Legislation enacted in March opened a nine-day early voting period for the New Jersey electorate at locations across the state until 31 October.

Who are the candidates for New Jersey Governor in 2021?

New Jerseyites can choose one of the five joint tickets, governor and lieutenant governor, from the Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian or Socialist Workers Party. The latest poll from Emerson College puts the distance between the two major party candidates at just four points.

Democratic ticket

Governor Phil Murphy is running again with his Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver in 2021. During his first term New Jersey has taken a more progressive turn with tax hikes on the wealthy which were directed toward K-12 education, childcare, tuition-free college, and government-employee pensions. He has promised that he will not raise taxes again in his second term should he win re-election.

Some of Murphy’s major accomplishments during the past four years include increasing the minimum wage which will gradually rise to $15 in 2024. He expanded voting access, this year New Jersey will have early voting for the first time. Those with limited means can now attend community colleges tuition free.

He is attacked by some of his opponents for his handling of the covid-19 pandemic, albeit a majority of New Jerseyites have a favorable opinion of the measures taken to tackle the pandemic. Currently the school and daycare center mask mandate in effect for children as young as two is drawing much of the criticism.

Republican ticket

Jack Ciattarelli, a former state Assemblyman for six years, shares the GOP ticket with former state Senator Diane Allen. Ciattarelli has focused much of his campaign on the high taxes in New Jersey, one of the biggest issues for the state’s residents. If elected, he says that he would lower a number of taxes, primarily the state property tax. He would achieve this through reforming the state’s school funding formula and how the state allocates aid to districts.

He would also make cuts to income taxes for the poorest and the wealthiest, exempting those who earn less than $20,000 and cutting how much top earners pay by 30 percent. Ciattarelli would also reduce the tax burden for small businesses and corporations.

Ciattarelli would take a tougher stand on immigration pledging to end the state’s so-called “sanctuary” policies for undocumented immigrants. He says he supports abortion rights but would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. He backs vaccination but opposes mask and vaccination mandates.

For a rundown on how the two main candidates differ on a range of issues, NJ.com looks at the issues one-by-one.

Green Party ticket

Madelyn R Hoffman, is an adjunct professor of political science and public speaking at Hudson County Community College. She is running for governor with Heather Warburton as the candidate for lt. governor. They support adoption of a Green New Deal in New Jersey. Furthermore they support tuition-free public college for New Jersey students and ending youth incarceration in the state.

Libertarian ticket

The top plank on the Gregg Mele for governor website is ending lockdowns even though New Jersey has largely ended covid-19 restrictions. However, the Libertarian candidate takes issue with Governor Murphy’s mask mandate in daycare centers and schools which is in place since children under 12 cannot yet get vaccinated. Joining him on the Libertarian ticket is Eveline Brownstein, a human resources professional.

Mele also calls for the tax burden to be reduced for residents and business which is causing a “mass exodus” from the state. His platform includes calls for freedom of choice in education, healthcare and tackling climate change by unleashing American innovation. Additionally, he calls for releasing all prisoners currently being held on marijuana possession.

Socialist Workers Party ticket

The candidate from the Socialist Workers Party, Joanne Kunian, is currently working as a deli worker at Walmart but has worked at oil refineries and in the meat packing industry. Her running mate Vivian Sahner also works at Walmart but previously worked at a union auto plant as reported by Patch. Their main platform is labor equality and workers’ rights, including cutting the work week without cutting pay and more safety for workers . They also support women's rights to family planning services as well as end police brutality and anti-Semitic assaults.