By Art Gallagher
The pre-primary of the 2021 GOP nomination for NJ Governor got a lot more interesting this morning.
In a Star Ledger Friendly Fire interview with Democrat strategist Julie Roginsky and Republican strategist Mike DuHaime that Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick shared on facebook, DuHaime declared Bramnick to be a “top contender for governor after a strong 2019.”
DuHamie was former Governor Chris Christie’s lead strategist in his successful runs for governor in 2009 and 2013 and Christie’s failed 2016 presidential campaign. He doesn’t make flippant declarations. Bramnick is either seriously considering running or the Christie intelligentsia is signalling to donors and insiders that they are not satisfied with the pre-primary field.
Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, former Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno’s primary opponent in 2017 has been running for over a year already. NJ GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt is widely thought to be a contender. Monmouth Sheriff Shaun Golden is on most lists of potential candidates but has yet to act like a candidate.
Bramnick would have a tough time in a GOP primary. All any opponent would have to do is play readily available video of the Minority Leader bashing President Trump and defending Christie. NJ GOP primary voters like Trump and don’t like Christie.
In a general election, presumed Democrat nominee Governor Phil Murphy and his New Directions NJ PAC would buy up air time on cable news to play video of Bramnick defending Christie during the Bridgegate scandal in 2014 and beyond.
Don’t rule Christie out as a candidate for governor. He can legally run again. There is still juice in the orange. He would love to beat Murphy and Murphy would relish that race until he loses. As unpopular as Christie remains, he could recover and rehabilitate his image. If I were designing a Christie campaign, I would have him announce his candidacy from a beach chair at Island Beach State Park. It would be hilarious. New Jersey would love it and the media would eat it up. DuHaime would never approve it though.
Other potential Republican gubernatorial candidates are Bob Hugin, former Congressman Tom MacArthur, former State Senator Joe Kyrillos, Hirsh Singh, Joe Rudy Rullo and former Monmouth County Freeholder Gary Rich.