Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno’s television ad slams Democrat Phil Murphy, who holds a double-digit lead in the opinion polls.
“When asked about deporting criminal illegals, Phil Murphy said, ‘My bias is going to be having their back,'” the ad says.
Murphy made that statement in a Facebook town hall discussion about sanctuary cities and protecting unauthorized immigrants, not about unauthorized immigrants committing violent crimes.
“The field is so tilted against ‘Dreamers’, against newly arrived immigrant brothers and sisters. My bias is going to be having their back because there’s always going to be an example in any population of somebody who does something awful,” said Murphy during the town hall.
The television ad states, “Murphy will have the backs of deranged murderers.”
The ad has led to a cascade of criticism and condemnation.
“As a resident of one of the most diverse states, it just boggles my mind that a former sheriff would traffic in such an irresponsible idea and ad. Well, first and foremost it just hearkens the Willie Horton ads of yesteryear,” said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance.
In the 1988 presidential campaign, Republican Vice President George H.W. Bush used the scary image of Willie Horton as a predator on society to say his Democrat opponent was soft on crime. The ad stated, “Despite a life sentence, Horton received 10 weekend passes from prison. Horton fled, kidnapping a couple, stabbing the man and repeatedly raping his girlfriend.”
Republican Consultant Chris Russell says it’s offensive comparing the two ads.
“I don’t think there’s a correlation to the Horton ad. I think this is an issue that New Jersey is going to grapple with,” said Russell.
Russell said the ad does hit hard.
“But I think it’s an ad that she had to do. I think it’s the right call politically. It’s certainly an explosive issue, but I think she’s on the right side of it and on the right side of New Jersey voters who are in the middle and concerned about these issues,” he said.
At Tuesday’s debate, Murphy said where he stood on unauthorized immigrants who commit violent crimes.
“Those people need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Murphy.
Guadagno’s ad is the talk of New Jersey politics, and she went on national television Thursday morning to talk more about it.
“Had they run his background check and found that he was an illegal, undocumented immigrant given the fact that he had committed a violent crime, he would’ve still been in jail,” Guadagno said on Fox and Friends.
“This is one of the more despicable, almost Willie Horton-esque ads,” said Sen. Cory Booker.
Guadagno’s running mate is Woodcliff Lake Mayor Carlos Rendo, who is of Cuban descent. In a statement he said, “Kim and I understand we must have the backs of law abiding New Jerseyans and law enforcement over violent criminals, and we both stand by the ad.”