They know her better than the other guy, but they don’t like her.
That’s the challenge for Tammy Murphy four months in advance of the June primary.
One poll is — well, one poll. Still, the first independent sampling of the Democratic Senate primary is worth examining.
The bottom line is that Andy Kim leads Murphy by a margin of 32-20.
Incumbent Bob Menendez, who is technically a candidate as well, and Patricia Campos-Medina were in single digits. Some 31 percent of respondents didn’t pick a candidate. That’s a pretty high number, but the race is just getting started.
Kim said a few weeks ago that he was up by more than 20 points, but that was his own poll, so let’s discount that one.
What’s most newsworthy in last week’s FDU Poll is a finding that 68 percent of Democratic primary voters say they’re aware of the First Lady compared to 52 percent who know about the congressman from CD-3.
But even with a 16-point advantage in name recognition, Murphy trails Kim by 12 points – a 28-point swing.
Of course, saying that voters in the poll “don’t like” Murphy is probably a bit misleading. Rather than personal animosity toward the First Lady, what they probably don’t like is how all this is going down.
With no elected experience, and in fact a record of being a registered Republican until rather recently, Murphy announced her U.S. Senate candidacy in November.
The state’s Democratic Party power structure fell into line. The First Lady quickly got endorsements from party leaders and even some House members, who in doing so, overlooked Kim, their congressional colleague.
That’s rubbing many ordinary Democratic voters the wrong way. Anyone who talks to rank-and-file Dems sees that quite easily.
And it’s easy to understand.
The Democratic Party primary base tends to lean left – just as the Republican base leans right.
Liberals long have opposed the influence of money in politics and political bossism. The Murphy candidacy touches both those poles.
More recently, we have seen criticism, and even litigation, over the “country line,” or, if you prefer, bossism in action. The county line used to be one of those things even serious political observers ignored. or just took for granted. No longer.
So it’s not at all surprising that Democratic voters are not happy with the governor’s wife being forced upon them – and for the U.S. Senate no less.
It’s a long way until June and there will be more polls, one presumes.
The First Lady certainly has time to swing things around. Just look at the large number of undecideds in the FDU poll – 31 percent.
At the same time, Murphy’s recent comments that her background would not be much of an issue if her name was “Tommy Murphy” were not helpful.
Nepotism in politics is certainly bipartisan – Bob Menendez and Bob Menendez Jr; Tom Kean and Tom Kean Jr.
But it’s also gender neutral.