Last week’s FDU Poll of the forthcoming New Jersey US Senate Democratic Primary sparked significant debate among the New Jersey political cognoscenti. Specifically, the issue is whether the current frontrunner, Congressman Andy Kim, can maintain the current double-digit lead, 32 to 20 with 31 percent undecided he enjoys over New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy.
The FDU Poll, conducted by the remarkable Jersey political wunderkind Dan Cassino was recently recognized in Nate Silver’s 538 rating of polls as one of America’s top-tier polls. Its credibility is beyond challenge, and the already incredibly enthusiastic volunteers of Andy Kim continue to rejoice over the poll results.
Have no fear, say the Murphy campaign managers and statewide Democratic leaders who support the First Lady. Tammy Murphy will appear in the County Democratic Organization endorsed ballot column line (hereinafter, “the line”) in virtually each of the Garden State’s 21 counties.
Indeed, a statewide primary candidate’s line position in most counties makes him or her virtually unbeatable. This was extensively documented by a recent study by the eminent professor, Dr. Julia Sass Rubin at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
Yet there has been a primary in recent New Jersey history that demonstrated how a candidate with a compelling message could overcome the disadvantage of not being positioned on “the line.” I speak of former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, who defeated the late Congressman Bob Franks in the 2001 Republican gubernatorial primary by a wide margin, even though Franks held the line position in 20 of the 21 counties. The Schundler message was a populist yet remarkably non-grievance, non-racist message that Bret was a reformer who was progressive in his principles yet conservative in his values.