Kim’s Hat Trick

FLEMINGTON – As Tammy Murphy greeted supporters at a pre-convention party Sunday, one man acknowledged the First Lady’s challenge. He said he knew that Murphy’s critics say the governor is trying to force his wife into the U.S. Senate.

But he added, “If that’s all they have on her.” His point was obvious, if that’s what Murphy’s critics are saying, it really isn’t all that much.

The problem with that analysis is that what critics have on the First Lady may indeed be enough.

A few hours later, Andy Kim earned the “hat trick,” easily winning the endorsement of the Hunterdon County Democrats. He beat Murphy by nearly 2-1 – 120 to 64.

The congressman has now won three county conventions – Monmouth, Burlington and Hunterdon – in the last two weeks.

Speaking afterwards, Kim said, “rank and file Democrats, they don’t go along with this. They want to make sure we have a real democracy.”

He meant political bossism and also the brouhaha that erupted on the convention floor when party leaders proposed, essentially, endorsing both candidates. That plan would have allowed both Kim and Murphy to share an endorsement, or more technically, the county line.

Many in the crowd booed that suggestion, which was voted down in a voice vote.

That took a lot of the suspense out of the afternoon. A shared endorsement clearly would have benefitted Murphy and Kim voters knew it. So, as soon as the Kim forces won the procedural vote, his overall victory was assured.

Kim said that the shared endorsement idea was “one of the craziest things I’ve seen.”

Murphy did not speak extensively to the press after the vote came in.

Actual issues, of course, are not that important here as both candidates agree about women’s rights, combating climate change and more far-reaching gun regulations.

To many county committee members, this is a race about alleged bossism.

In fact, when Janice Kovach, the mayor of Clinton, nominated the First Lady, she made a point of saying that no one tells her what to do.

Both candidates gave familiar stump speeches.

Kim talked about how humbling it is for him – a son of immigrants – to be running for the Senate. He also gave a shout out to former congressman Tom Malinowski, who was in the audience. Malinowski has endorsed Kim.

Murphy again used her line about the Senate needing “more ticked off moms.”

Kim’s success, notwithstanding, an obstacle down the road is that some of the larger counties do not decide endorsements at open conventions. Instead, it is a game for party leaders. This gives an advantage to Murphy.

Kim, who admits that is a problem, will need to rely on the ordinary Democratic voter.

To that end, he talked about appearing Friday night at an event in Jersey City.

He said many people he talked to oppose bossism, adding, “They would kill for a convention up there.”
Meanwhile, Patricia Campos Medina is also in the race.

She finished a distant third at the Hunterdon convention with 9 votes.

Campos Medina did not take part in Saturday’s Burlington County convention, appearing instead before a group of Morris County Democrats.

She was asked why she was running – a reasonable question given her seeming lack of support.

Campos Medina said she was once told as a teenager that she should forget about college. She ignored that advice, pressed forward, and attended college.

Now, she said she’s being told she can’t be a U.S. Senator. So, you guessed it. She is pressing ahead.

All well and good, but Campos Medina has been an afterthought at the three open conventions held so far.

On Saturday, she parted company with Murphy and Kim by calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. That cheered one woman in the audience, but angered another, who pointed out that Hamas began the war and is still holding hostages.

More broadly, Campos Medina said she is the only real progressive in the race and that the Senate needs a woman of her modest background – the daughter of a housekeeper and a janitor.

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