Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Andy Kim Leads Tammy Murphy in New Jersey Senate Primary

The New Jersey Democratic senatorial primary is a 2.1-way race. It pits Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) against New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy (D). The governor could have filed to run himself, but he decided to give his wife the honor. That may not work as planned.

Although Murphy has the institutional support of the New Jersey Democratic Party, she has never held public office herself and the Senate is a relatively high place to start out. The only reasons she is being taken seriously are that: (1) her husband is the governor and (2) the couple is exceedingly wealthy. Kim, who was born in Boston, is the first Korean-American Democrat to be elected to the House. A Korean-American Republican, Jay Kim, served three terms as a representative from California in the 1990s.

And, by the way, the 0.1 candidate is the incumbent, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is under indictment for a bunch of things, including acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the Egyptian government. For that work, he received wads of cash, gold bars, and expensive gifts. This is Menendez's second time around. His previous indictment led to a hung jury, but apparently he didn't learn anything from it.

The first public poll of the race has now come out. It is from Fairleigh Dickinson University, which has done New Jersey polls in previous years. It has Kim at 32%, Murphy at 20%, and Menendez at 9%. The rest are unsure.

The race is not exactly Bernie vs. Hillary, part 1,253, but Kim is a moderate progressive and appears to have grassroots support from New Jersey progressives. Murphy is about as establishment as it gets. New Jersey has a peculiar primary election system that would make Boss Tweed blush. If enough county chairs support a candidate, that candidate gets preferential treatment on the ballot. No other state has anything like this. Much of Kim's support is from voters who hate that system. Still, if Kim can tell his supporters to simply search the ballot until they find his name, they can vote for him.

Kim is not universally known yet. But of the 52% of primary voters who know about him, he is almost universally admired. Murphy is better known, with a 68% name recognition, but her approve-disapprove is 29%-14%. Menendez is at 22% approve and 68% disapprove. He will be on trial just before the primary. He is a dead man walking. He hasn't resigned from the Senate because he doesn't want to lose his monthly $14,500 paycheck (which goes directly to his lawyers). He has no chance of winning the primary. Whoever wins the primary is a virtual shoo-in in November against whatever sacrificial lamb the Republicans find. Often it is some self-funding businessman who is deluding himself. (V)

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