As we approach New Jersey’s gubernatorial election and prepare to bid adieu to our current governor Chris Christie, one thing is certain: Governor Christie has ended any chance of having another Republican governor in Drumthwacket for at least the next four years. With an approval rating of 17 percent, Christie is the least popular governor in the U.S.Currently, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno leads the polls for the Republican nomination; however, she is clearly tied to the current administration, which will undoubtedly hurt her in the general election. Closely behind her in the race for the GOP nomination is Princeton’s own assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli. But like Guadagno, Ciattarelli will also most likely be unable to overcome the current stench of unpopularity surrounding his party — New Jersey is a historically blue state, albeit with a few devoutly red pockets.
After voting out Jon Corzine due to his flagrant corruption, our state took a chance on a Republican in Chris Christie, a decision many New Jerseyans are coming to regret. Polling indicates New Jerseyans are prepared to elect another governor based on disdain for the party in power.Given the almost-certain failure of Republican candidates, we turn to the Democrats who have thrown their hat into the ring. As of yet, Phil Murphy, John Wisniewski, and a host of others are all candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor. Murphy, currently ahead of Guadagno in head-to-head polling, leads the pack with 23 percent of registered Democrats behind him. Wisniewski is distantly next in line, garnering a mere 6 percent and a fourth the popularity of Murphy. Murphy and Wisniewski epitomize the split occurring in the Democratic Party at a national level. Wisniewski is a bleeding-heart liberal, endorsing progressive ideals such as socialized healthcare, while Murphy is a former Goldman Sachs executive with a centrist mantra. Wisniewski has served as an assemblyman from District 19 since 1996. He headed the “Bridgegate” investigation as Chair of the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. While his résumé isn’t incredible, he has received plenty of praise for shedding light on the Christie administration’s dealings in the scandal. His investment into the Bridgegate scandal is a double-edged sword, however, as many of the more conservative voters criticize his use of taxpayer money on an investigation that simply reaffirmed their disapproval of the Christie administration.
Murphy, on the other hand, is less controversial. The former ambassador to Germany and a top Goldman Sachs executive, he is mostly criticized for being part of the “out-of-touch global elite.” The results are playing out similarly to the Presidential Election of 2016, in which Hillary Clinton, the more conservative of the front-runners for the party nomination was projected to win against Bernie Sanders, a self-declared “Democratic Socialist.” Similarly to the presidential election, younger voters are supportive of the more liberal candidate, John Wisniewski, while older voters doubt his ability to run on a far-left platform against a well funded Republican.
If elected, Ambassador Phil Murphy’s agenda would have broad implications for PHS specifically, as well as for the entire Princeton community. Most directly affecting students, Murphy pledges to terminate high-stakes standardized tests, such as the PARCC. Furthermore, Murphy wants to expand STEM education and give local school boards more of a voice in determining their education policies. He proposes to make higher learning more affordable and expand access to community colleges and vocational education programs. Murphy is also pledging to address the high cost of college tuition, and looking to our northern neighbor New York, the state route may be the quickest to “free college”.
It is easy to only follow federal elections, most voters do; however, for those looking to see where the real changes in their everyday lives will come, it is best to look more local. Regardless of the outcome, we are going to see new leadership and new energy. Change is coming.