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Tammy Murphy drops out of New Jersey Senate primary

The Hill
Tammy Murphy, the wife of Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), ended her primary campaign for Senate on Sunday.

The announcement abruptly ends a highly anticipated Senate bid which launched with high expectations, and leaves Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) as the only major candidate remaining in the race to replace Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

“After many busy, invigorating and yes challenging months, I am suspending my Senate campaign today,” Murphy announced in a video. “I’ve been genuine and factual throughout. But 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.”

Murphy struggled to overcome concerns over her qualifications and ties to the Governor’s office, despite a suite of high-power endorsements from most of the state’s Congressional delegation and backing from influential county party leaders.

The New Jersey Globe reported that Murphy made the decision Saturday, citing a narrow path to victory that would require significant campaign self-funding.

Kim gained momentum over the last months, upsetting Murphy in small county ballots. The race was seen as a toss-up by state politicos as recently as last week, citing Kim’s voter enthusiasm and Murphy’s endorsement advantage.

Murphy’s exit now brings her county endorsement lines into question. Each county party that has endorsed Murphy will decide whether to give its coveted endorsement ballot line to Kim.

Kim is suing the state over the endorsement ballot lines, claiming that the unique practice is undemocratic and allows party leadership to unfairly favor certain candidates over others. The state said last week it will not oppose the suit.

Murphy had gained endorsement lines in some of the state’s most populous counties, giving her a leg up over Kim for the primary, though if Kim’s suit is successful the advantage would disappear.

Murphy did not name or endorse Kim in her announcement, but did encourage party unity.

“With Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources tearing down a fellow Democrat instead of talking about process and politics,” she said. “New Jersey’s next senator must focus on the issues of our time and not be mired in tearing others down while dividing the people of our party and state.”

She said her focus will now shift to assisting the Biden campaign.

“And as we face grave dangerous threats on the national level thanks to Donald Trump and far-right extremists, it’s time to unify, not divide,” Murphy said. “I will now focus entirely on reelecting President Biden, and ensuring Democratic victories up and down the ballot all across New Jersey.”

Menendez is not participating in the primary, facing criminal corruption charges, but floated last week that he could run in the general election as an independent candidate.

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