New Jersey's Senate Race Just Got a Little More Interesting

First lady Tammy Murphy is running for fellow Democrat Bob Menendez's seat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 15, 2023 12:23 PM CST
New Jersey's First Lady Is Running for Senate
New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy arrives at the State House Assembly chambers prior to Gov. Phil Murphy's first State of the State address on Jan. 15, 2019, in Trenton, New Jersey.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy on Wednesday launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for US Senate in next year's contest. Her candidacy, announced Wednesday, puts her in the running to become the first woman elected to the Senate from New Jersey, reports the AP. The Democratic primary already features Rep. Andy Kim and could include Democratic US Sen. Bob Menendez, who has lost significant party support amid federal bribery charges but hasn't ruled out a run in 2024. "We need a senator who will work every single day to lower the cost of living, protect abortion rights, end the gun violence epidemic, and defend our democracy," she said in a roughly four-minute-long video posted online.

Murphy, 58, is a constant at events alongside her husband, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, and has taken on maternal and infant health and the environment as her top issues during her time as first lady—issues she highlighted in her announcement. A Virginia native, and University of Virginia graduate, Tammy Murphy worked in finance at Goldman Sachs alongside Phil Murphy before the couple settled in New Jersey. Democrats picked up at least five seats in the Assembly in this year's midterm legislative elections, a boon for the governor, who's in the final two years of his second term. Those successes could translate into critical county support for the first lady, who campaigned alongside the governor to increase their party's legislative majorities.

Murphy is well known in New Jersey's political circles. A former Republican, Murphy has spoken about growing up in a GOP-leaning area of Virginia and has previously donated to that party. She became a Democrat before her husband's run for office. But as notes, she faces "stiff competition"—likely including from the man who currently holds the Senate seat, Menendez, who's been indicted with his wife on various federal bribery charges. The Democratic primary will also include Kim, who announced his candidacy a day after Menendez was indicted. A Public Policy Polling poll released last month found that Kim was the favorite in the race with 42%, while Murphy had 19%, and Menendez clocked in with 5%. The poll left an awful lot of leeway, though, with 34% saying they hadn't made their minds up. Much more on Murphy's background here.

(More Tammy Murphy stories.)

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