NEW PROVIDENCE – It’s tough to forget about Donald Trump. But maybe, just maybe, the president is less of a burden for New Jersey Republicans than he was a few months ago. That’s the hope at least of Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, who is fighting to keep District 21 in Republican hands.
Bramnick and fellow Assembly member Nancy Munoz gave upbeat speeches Monday night to about 100 supporters gathered for an election eve rally in a private club.
Bramnick said the mood among the electorate has shifted from Trump and Chris Christie to Gov. Murphy. Tellingly, Bramnick reminded the crowd of Murphy’s recent comments that if taxes are your only issue, New Jersey may not be the place for you. The governor’s point was that taxes are needed to support a public school system that’s consistently ranked among the best in the nation and other services residents enjoy.
Republicans have jumped on the comment and are portraying the governor as indifferent to the concerns of average New Jersey residents.
Munoz, who said she eschewed high heels for sneakers during a day of door-knocking, said residents often begged her to do something about taxes. She said many people want to stay in New Jersey, but that the state’s high cost of living makes that impossible.
One never knows precisely why some people vote the way they do, but Republicans are convinced they win the argument – and the election – if they make it about Murphy.
But given how Trump dominates the news cycle, that’s no sure thing.
“The Democrats want to turn this into a national election,” Bramnick said,
The Democratic candidates are Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman. Complicating the picture are two self-proclaimed conservatives, Martin Marks and Harris Pappas, who are running as independents.
Feelings in the crowd toward Marks and Pappas were mixed with some projecting they will have no impact on the race and others condemning the prospect of conservatives, in effect, hurting Republicans.
Through it all, Munoz expressed the optimism one expects to hear at gatherings such as these.
“We’re definitely going to win,” she said.