Morning Digest: Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s first lady, drops Senate bid

March 25, 2024

Former financier Tammy Murphy, whose bid for Senate enjoyed every advantage that New Jersey’s machine-driven politics could offer, stunned the political world when she abandoned her campaign for the Democratic nomination on Sunday, a day before the candidate filing deadline.

The shocking development, which was first reported by the New Jersey Globe, makes third-term Rep. Andy Kim the overwhelming favorite to win both the June 4 Democratic primary and the November general election for the seat currently held by Sen. Robert Menendez. The incumbent, who is set to go on trial in May on federal corruption charges, said on Thursday that he won’t seek the Democratic nomination, though he still has out the possibility he might run as an independent.

But Murphy’s insider-focused campaign also shined a spotlight on a unique New Jersey practice that had long allowed the establishment to remain in power: the county line. Unlike in every other state, where candidates are listed on ballots by the office they’re seeking, New Jersey allows its counties to group contenders based on whether they’ve earned an endorsement from the local Democratic or Republican party.

This system allows parties to give preferential ballot placement to their preferred candidates, putting endorsees in a prominent location while relegating others to less visible spots known as “ballot Siberia.” That design confers an extreme advantage: Rutgers professor Julia Sass Rubin concluded that between 2002 and 2022, candidates on the county line enjoyed an average boost of 38 points.

Daily Kos, March 25, 2024

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