A Surprise Move in New Jersey Senate Race

Tammy Murphy ends her bid before Democratic primary
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2024 2:30 AM CDT
NJ First Lady Ends Run for Menendez's Senate Seat
U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Andy Kim congratulates fellow candidate New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy just before it was announced she defeated him at the Bergen County Democratic convention in Paramus, N.J., Monday, March 4, 2024.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Tammy Murphy, wife of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, has dropped out of the race for the Senate seat currently held by Bob Menendez. Menendez, who is facing federal corruption charges, has confirmed he won't run in this year's Democratic primary, though he said he could still run as an "independent Democrat" in the general election if he's exonerated. Murphy's exit "all but paves the way to the Democratic nomination for Rep. Andy Kim," who was running against the first lady, reports Politico. Tidbits from coverage around Murphy's decision to exit the race, which Politico calls "shocking":

  • The Hill agrees that her exit was an "abrupt" one, and leaves Kim as the only major candidate. But leading up to her decision, as NJ.com reported last week, the race had become "increasingly wild."

  • Murphy had won the support of many of the state's most powerful Democrats, and at the beginning of March, she beat Kim at the Bergen County Democratic convention, winning the Senate endorsement of Democrats in the largest county in New Jersey. But grassroots party activists weren't happy at the idea of one couple holding that degree of power in the state, and with all the establishment support, some feared she'd be granted a "near-coronation," according to Politico, which takes a long look at the troubled campaign here.
  • Murphy acknowledged those issues in her statement announcing the end of her campaign. "It is clear to me that continuing in this race will involve waging a very divisive and negative campaign, which I am not willing to do," she said.
(More New Jersey stories.)

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