Democrat Phil Murphy will face Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadango in the November 2017 general election. Here’s an overview of where the two candidates stand on major health care issues based on previous surveys by POLITICO New Jersey.
Gubernatorial Candidate Positions on Healthcare Issues
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Republican (via spokesperson Ricky Diaz)
“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals since the bill is now being debated in the Senate, but the Lt. Governor has long opposed Obamacare and believes it’s unraveling. She would urge Congress to make sure that any federal plan to repeal and replace it maintains coverage for those who now have health care, protects New Jerseyans with pre-existing conditions, provides choice, improves care and reduces costs.”
Phil Murphy, Democrat (via campaign spokesman Derek Roseman)
“Phil has been clear that the first order of business must be to defend the ACA and protect the health care of the millions of New Jerseyans it benefits. If the Republicans succeed, it would create a several-billion-dollar hole in our already-constrained budget. Phil is studying all options — including a public option — in order to protect health care as a right, not a privilege, for all New Jerseyans. But make no mistake, repeal of the ACA would be a humanitarian and fiscal disaster for our state. Phil’s first priority is to defend the law, and he has consistently called on Governor Christie to end his silence and stand up for New Jersey.”
Gubernatorial Candidate Positions on other Issues
Legalizing marijuana: Murphy has said he will make legalizing recreational marijuana a priority. Guadagno opposes the idea; she supports decriminalization but not legalization.
Out-of-network reform: The question of how to protect consumers from surprise medical bills has dogged the state Legislature for almost a decade and generated a fantastic display of lobbying power. Murphy said he will close the “out-of-network loophole.” His campaign declined to weigh in on the current bill (A1952). Guadagno has not taken a public position on the issue.
Obamacare/Medicaid expansion: One of the biggest challenges facing New Jersey’s next governor will likely be funding for the state’s $15 billion Medicaid program. Murphy is an ardent Obamacare supporter and says the state must defend against federal funding cuts to the Medicaid expansion population. Guadagno opposes Obamacare, but she would like to see Congress preserve coverage at current levels in whatever replacement plan they craft.
Single-payer: Murphy has said he would consider a single-payer health care system, but he has not provided any details. Guadagno opposes such a system.
Horizon: Both Murphy and Guadagno have said they oppose Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to take money from the capital reserves of the state’s largest insurer Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
Gubernatorial Candidates Offer Vague Plans to Deal with Potential Medicaid Cuts
New Jersey’s gubernatorial candidates were asked how they would deal with potential federal cuts to Medicaid, below are the responses from Mr. Phil Murphy, the Democratic nominee, and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, the Republican nominee.
Phil Murphy, Democrat (via campaign spokesman Derek Roseman): “Phil has been clear that the first order of business must be to defend the ACA and protect the health care of the millions of New Jerseyans it benefits. If the Republicans succeed, it would create a several-billion-dollar hole in our already-constrained budget. Phil is studying all options — including a public option — in order to protect health care as a right, not a privilege, for all New Jerseyans. But make no mistake, repeal of the ACA would be a humanitarian and fiscal disaster for our state. Phil’s first priority is to defend the law, and he has consistently called on Governor Christie to end his silence and stand up for New Jersey.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Republican (via spokesperson Ricky Diaz): “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals since the bill is now being debated in the Senate, but the Lt. Governor has long opposed Obamacare and believes it’s unraveling. She would urge Congress to make sure that any federal plan to repeal and replace it maintains coverage for those who now have health care, protects New Jerseyans with pre-existing conditions, provides choice, improves care and reduces costs.”
Responses from Politico.
NJ Primary/General Election Update on the More Competitive New Jersey Districts
New Jersey’s June 6th primary resulted in all incumbents in the 120 seats up for election in the New Jersey Legislature to maintain their seats for the general election this November. However, there are 10 open seats on the ballot due to a Legislators’ retirement or they are not running this year. Fourtey seats are up in the Senate and 80 in the Assembly. Currently, Democrats control both houses, outnumbering Republicans 24 to 16 in the Senate and 52 to 28 in the Assembly. The Democrats are far likely to retain their majority in the Legislature than lose it to the Republicans because there are very few competitive districts and most incumbents win in the general election. Below is a district by district list of the more competitive races:
- District 2 – Atlantic County
Republicans are hoping to pick up a Senate seat in south Jersey’s 2nd district now that Democratic Senator Jim Whelan is retiring. Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown, who became a local champion for fighting against Christie’s state takeover of Atlantic City, is campaigning against Democrat Colin Bell, a former county freeholder. If the Republicans take the seat, it would increase their count in the Senate. The district is almost evenly split between Republican and Democrat voters, therefore, the race could be close.
- District 7 – Burlington County
Republican Senator Diane Allen is retiring this year and that leaves the Senate seat in District 7 open. Assemblyman Troy Singleton will attempt to move up to the Senate and will be challenged by Republican Ron Prisco. Senator Allen was well known in the district having been a news ancor for a major Philadelphia network, however, with the district leaning Democrat, Assemblyman Singleton is the favored winner, which would be a one seat increase for the Senate Democrats.
- District 11 – Monmouth County
Another district which is evenly split between Republican and Democrat voters is District 11, where incumbent Senator Jennifer Beck is facing a tough challenge from Vin Gopal, the former chairman of the county’s Democratic Party. Last election, Senator Beck’s running mates lost their seats to two Democrats (Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling). The two Assemblypersons are also facing a challenge from Republicans Rob Acerra and Mike Whelan. The races in District 11 are anticipated to be very costly without a clear prediction of who will prevail.
- District 16 – Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties
Republicans lost a seat in the last election to Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker in central Jersey’s split 16th district. Now, former Republican Assemblywoman Donna Simon is running to win her seat back.
But Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican who holds the district’s other seat, is not on the ballot, giving Democrats hope to take full control of the district. Simon is running with Mark Caliguire, Zwicker with Roy Freiman. Assemblyman Ciattarelli is banned, under New Jersey law, from running for two offices in one year, therefore, his gubernatorial bid precludes him running to keep his seat in the Assembly.
- District 3 – Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties
Senate President Stephen Sweeney is facing a challenge from Fran Grenier, the Salem County Republican Party chair who has the backing of the powerful New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).
The NJEA has been angry with Sweeney over the last few years, especially for not posting union supported bills, and is trying to remove him from office, however, Sweeney is still favored to win.
- Other Districts
The remaining retiring Legislators are from districts where their respective parties have strongholds and candidates running from the same party as the incumbent will likely win. The veteran legislators not running this year are: Senators Joseph Kyrillos (R-13), Raymond Lesniak (D-20), and Kevin O’Toole (R-40), and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19). Senator Lesniak and Assemblyman Wisniewski are also precluded from running in this election because of their gubernatorial primary bids.
It also appears, assuming a Sweeney win in the 3rd District, that Senator Sweeney will continue to hold the post of Senate President. The post of Assembly Speaker is less clear. Current Speaker Vince Prieto is being challenged already by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin who released enough signatures of Assembly colleagues willing to support him as Speaker to theoretically knock out Speaker Prieto. However, it is extremely early in the process. These discussions typically take place after the November general election. It has been heard that Assemblyman Coughlin does not have the position solidly in place and there is the possibility of a consensus candidate other than Coughlin or Prieto. Geography is also critical here, tradition holds if the Senate President is from the south, the Speaker will be from the north and vice versa. For more on the leadership position struggle, click here.