Tammy Murphy suspends campaign for New Jersey Senate
Tammy Murphy suspends campaign for New Jersey Senate

Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com/USA Today Network

Tammy Murphy speaks to supporters outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall, Local 164, where the Bergen County Democratic Convention is being held, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Paramus.


New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy is suspending her campaign for Bob Menendez’s Senate seat, she announced Sunday.

“After many busy, invigorating and, yes, challenging months, today I am suspending my campaign for the Senate,” she said in video posted on X. “I have been sincere and truthful throughout, but it is clear to me that continuing in this race will involve running a very divisive and negative campaign that I am not willing to do.”

“And with Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources taking down a fellow Democrat,” she added.

Murphy’s decision comes just days before a judge is set to rule on a case aimed at curbing the influence of local bigwigs on party primaries and the nominating process.

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who is running for a Senate seat, has asked the court for a preliminary injunction against the eviction of the so-called party line – a voting structure that allows county leaders to give preferential placement to primary candidates they approve – ahead of the June 4 primary.

But the judge in the case was concerned, and the defendants argued that the time frame was too short to make such a change. With Murphy out, however, the urgency to address the design of the primary has faded — meaning the “line” may be in place for the upcoming primary.

“We will continue our efforts to strengthen our democracy in New Jersey as we come together to stand up to the dangerous agenda pushed by Trump,” Kim said in a statement Sunday, suggesting the lawsuit would continue. The congressman praised Murphy as “a voice for progress and public service in our state,” adding, “I respect her decision to continue this work as first lady.”

Advocates of party system change have raised questions about Murphy’s decision.

“This sudden change of heart by Tammy Murphy, on the eve of Judge (Zahid) Quraishi’s decision on the controversial New Jersey District line, seems more than suspicious,” Yael Neave, president of the New Jersey Coalition for Good Government, said. says in a text message.

“The New Jersey Good Government Coalition — and the entire grassroots community that has fought the line for years — is wondering if this announcement is a last-ditch effort to save the county line. This just feels very Jersey. It looks like the party machine that supported the First Lady asked her to take one for the team,” Neave added.

Ezra Levin — co-founder and co-CEO of Indivisible, which has backed Kim — dismissed criticism that the congressman’s campaign is focused only on the voting system. (Murphy said in his Sunday video, “Instead of talking about process and politics, my campaign was about solutions for families and a vision for the next generation.”)

“Andy Kim’s campaign was not focused on ‘the process.’ He was focused on democracy. Democracy matters to voters. Democrats across the country should take note,” Levin said. “Andy Kim is already on his way to becoming a unique voice in the Senate.”

Murphy, the wife of two-term Gov. Phil Murphy, entered the Democratic primary in November as a first-time candidate with prior ties to GOP politics. However, her early endorsements in the primary suggested she could get a good spot on the ballot — and a potentially decisive advantage over Kim.

Under the party-line system, party-endorsed candidates for various offices appear in a single, prominent column on the ballot, while those who do not receive a seat on the “line” are scattered throughout the ballot. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the resulting grassroots progressive activism helped accelerate resistance to the party system, but it has grown significantly since the Murphy-Kim primaries began.

Menendez, who faces bribery and obstruction of justice charges, announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election in the Democratic primary, but again left open the possibility of an independent run this summer. The senator has vehemently denied the allegations against him and said he will prove his innocence, while maintaining that he is being pursued by prosecutors.

This story and headline have been updated.

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