Not too many members of the Democratic Party establishment think Governor Phil Murphy will lose his reelection bid. But insiders are bored, a source admitted today, and no one feels any deep engendered loyalty outside the sweat lodge of party moneymakers and wisecrackers who were there before Murphy slapped their backs and will be there when he leaves.
And that’s worrisome, the source added.
Too many people could go to sleep and that could cause problems for the power structure. The Monmouth University Poll that shows Murphy up by double digits over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli could cause party players to turn out the lights and snore through the rest of the cycle.
Maybe that’s a tad exaggerated.
Headaches, is more accurate.
Not for Murphy.
But for legislative incumbents in battleground districts.
In particular there is increasingly the sense of state Senator Dawn Addiego (D-8) sliding into the abyss. “That’s done,” a party source said, lazily calling the race for Republican challenger Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-8).
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) could rationalize a loss by Addiego.
“She’s a former Republican, we did all we could.” One can imagine the post-election spin by the South’s allies.
Just like they once did “all they could” for Assemblyman Fran Bodine, a Republican who tried to repackage himself as a Democrat running for state senate and found himself suddenly deprived off 11th hour resources.
Watch the late money surge with astonishing efficiency into Atlantic County.
For if they can extract themselves from the vicissitudes of Burlington with little spiritual turmoil, the South, of course, wants to make sure Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-2) defeats Republican former Assemblyman Vince Polistina (R-2) for the vacant senate seat.
Anything short of a Mazzeo victory would embarrass the South and conceivably embolden their detractors – long enough for their detractors to get embarrassed and abandon any notion of an insurrection.
Why else would Sweeney go out of his way to ignore Polistina, who thought he would have the advantage of incumbency when the Murphy Administration gave a job to Chris Brown and impelled him to leave empty the LD2 senate seat ahead of the 2021 general election?
But there are other races where Ciattarelli, incrementally and energetically pecking away with an energized base against an incumbent with numerical advantages and little galvanized energy – could provoke a sweat from down ticket Democrats.
LD38 incumbent state Senator Joe Lagana might have to work harder than usual.
Are semi-bifurcated Democrats still so glutted with power that the South feels it would have to check an Addiego loss by quietly contributing to a Lagana loss, in the name of keeping the Middlesex-Bergen alliance off balance, in case of a senate presidency sneak attack on the other side of the elections?
They just need to ramrod Mazzeo.
A third source maintained that Lagana up “handily” in an internal poll. “With a 1M voter registration advantage, they just need urban areas to come out to win. It’s not a campaign designed for coattails. It’s a campaign designed to make sure the Guv doesn’t lose his shirt.”
As for Morris – envisioned by Democrats as the new frontier in the aftermath of U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s (D-11) historic 2018 victory – suddenly it looks buttoned for the GOP, and the likes of state Senator Tony Bucco safe reelection bets as opposed to imperiled, as they were in the Trump years.
“Ciattarelli’s beating Murphy by 16 points,” an operative told InsiderNJ, referring to Morris County.
Bucco feels secure enough to forgo debating, according to InsiderNJ columnist Fred Snowflack.
Bottom line, two sources – speaking on condition of anonymity – said there’s no overriding insider enthusiasm for the cycle or the incumbent, viewed as in interloper to the incubator, and in a low turnout election, Democrats – who control all arms of state government – fear Ciattarelli kickstarting that ever-irritated and irritable and reliably property tax-motivated GOP base against a complacent – and even sleeping – army.
It could interfere with their own designs, and – at worst – contribute to some ill will on the other side of the election. That said, a few people gently whined in 2017 too and Murphy ended up winning, as he delighted in saying at the time, “by two touchdowns.”