New Jersey first Lady Tammy Murphy ends Senate bid

 March 25, 2024

In a sobering rebuke of New Jersey's political machine, the state's Democratic first lady Tammy Murphy is ending her bid for the Senate, clearing a path for her rival in the race to succeed corrupt incumbent Bob Menendez (D).

Murphy's campaign was shrouded in an odor of nepotism, given her marriage to Governor Phil Murphy.

Despite her powerful connections, she faced formidable opposition from congressman Andy Kim (D).

In a video statement, Murphy cited the desire to avoid a divisive primary battle ahead of a general election rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Murphy drops out

With Democratic control of the Senate hanging on by a thread, Murphy said she wanted to avoid a "divisive and negative campaign" in a high-stakes election year.

“After many busy, invigorating, and yes, challenging months, I am suspending my Senate campaign today,” Murphy said in a video posted on X.

“And with Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources tearing down a fellow Democrat,” she added.

With Murphy ending her campaign, Kim is on a glide path to win the June primary.

"Tammy Murphy has been a voice for progress and public service in our state, and I respect her decision to carry on that work as First Lady. Tammy and I both agree that it is critical that we keep this seat, and the Senate, in Democratic control," he said in a statement.

Machine politics falls short?

Murphy had stood to appear on the "party line" - making her more visible on the primary ballot - after winning the support of the state's notorious Democratic machine in big counties like Middlesex, Essex, and Bergen.

But Kim was more popular in the polls, and he gave Murphy a run for her money in county conventions with more grassroots power.

Murphy's surrender is another embarrassment for the New Jersey machine, with incumbent Bob Menendez facing charges for taking bribes and acting as a foreign agent of Egypt and Qatar.

Menendez has refused to resign, blasting his critics as racists who are targeting him because of his Cuban heritage.

He announced last week that he would not seek re-election as a Democrat but left the door open to running as an independent, despite his bottom-barrel approval ratings.

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