Woodcliff Lake mayor discusses New Jersey gubernatorial campaign


WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. –– New Jersey residents woke up on Wednesday, Nov. 8 to a new Democratic governor-elect after eight years of Republican rule, and while some incumbent and unopposed Republicans retained seats in state government, municipal councils and school boards, it was Democrats who won the day.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy and running mate Sheila Oliver won election over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Woodcliff Lake mayor Carlos Rendo by approximately 14 percentage points—56 percent to 42 percent—winning by almost 280,000 votes over the Republican ticket.

Final statewide totals showed Murphy with 1,165,001 votes and Guadagno with 885,387 votes, according to Associated Press.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Gina Genovese garnered approximately one percent of statewide support with 11,921 votes, the highest total of five other lesser-known hopefuls.

In Bergen County, Murphy won 61 percent (122,438 votes) versus Guadagno’s 39 percent (78,619).

Interviewed Nov. 8 following a Woodcliff Lake council meeting, Rendo attributed their gubernatorial loss to Murphy’s large amount of campaign funds, and the governor, president, and lack of time to press a case against Murphy’s comment about turning New Jersey into a so-called “sanctuary state.”

The Republican campaign was criticized for misusing Murphy’s comments about a “sanctuary state” by implying that he would release criminals. A sanctuary city designation usually indicates that local law enforcement there do not issue extraordinary detainers on individuals with uncertain immigration status on behalf of federal authorities.

“We were running against a lot of money…(and) Trump and Christie,” said Rendo. “That was the issue. That was it. People were tired of Republicans at the executive level. So now the spotlight is on them,” said Rendo.

He later noted: “Christie was the main issue in terms of [Guadagno] was with him…the weight of that,” hurt Guadagno’s chances. He said Republicans got 43 percent of the statewide vote, and came back to 12 points down from 26 after he was named as Guadagno’s lieutenant governor candidate.

Rendo said Murphy’s comment about making NJ into a “sanctuary state” – as Murphy suggested – was an issue that allowed them to get more votes from the Republican base, and had it gone another month they were “in striking range” to win the election.

Final voter tallies showed 1.12 million votes for the Democrats and 859,000 for the Republicans. Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs executive and former diplomat with no previous elected experience, was favored by political pundits and analysts to defeat Guadagno.

As Gov. Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor for eight years, Guadagno was closely tied to Christie, whose public approval ratings have dipped to all-time lows recently. She was often criticized by editorial writers and critics for not publicly opposing him or airing her own opinions during her eight-year tenure.

Murphy, 60, will be sworn in as the state’s 56th governor on Jan. 18, 2018. He will be the first Democratic governor since Jon Corzine, also a former Goldman Sachs executive, who was defeated by Christie in 2009.

In District 39, incumbent Republican state Sen. Gerald Cardinale of Demarest won 53 percent of votes cast with 31,940 votes. Democratic challenger Linda Schwager of Oakland totaled 27,736 votes (46 percent) and Libertarian James Tosone garnered 539 votes (one percent).

Both District 39 Republican Assembly incumbents Holly Schepesi of River Vale and Robert Auth of Old Tappan won a narrower victory over Democratic challengers Janine Chung of Closter and Annie Hausmann of Norwood.

Schepisi topped district vote-getters with 28,103 votes (28 percent), followed by Auth with 26,938 votes (26 percent). Democrats Chung and Hausmann pulled in 23 percent of votes each, totaling 23,697 votes and 23,450 votes respectively.

District 39 includes 23 communities in Bergen and Passaic counties: Bloomingdale, Closter, Demarest, Dumont, Emerson, Harrington Park, Haworth, Hillsdale, Mahwah, Montvale, Norwood, Oakland, Old Tappan, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ringwood, River Vale, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River, Wanaque, Washington, Westwood, and Woodcliff Lake.

Reported registration in District 39 is 29 percent Republican, 27 percent Democratic, and remaining voters unaffiliated.