Supporters saw her off. Kim Guadagno will ride a campaign bus for the next five days following in the time-honored wheel tracks of former candidates for governor, including her boss, Chris Christie. But Guadagno’s trying to put some distance between herself and the politically toxic current governor, as she kicked off her 56-stop campaign marathon called, “Main Street, Not Wall Street.”
Guadagno’s driving home a final message to voters.
“They have a crystal clear choice on Tuesday, and they have to get out to vote, because it’s going to make an incredible difference in their lives, going forward. Do they want lower taxes and a safer state? Or do they want to vote for Phil Murphy? It’s a very clear choice,” she said.
Guadagno’s running mate, Woodcliff Lake’s Mayor Carlos Rendo will also hit the road, riding in a somewhat downscaled model with a separate tour schedule. But the same talking points are critical of Democratic candidate for governor, Phil Murphy.
“He’s in his mansion in Rumson. Doesn’t want to come out. We’re in the street, and that’s what wins elections, folks,” said Rendo.
What wins elections is getting the most votes and that’s where money makes a difference. Murphy’s campaign reportedly outspent Guadagno’s on advertising in October, respectively $3.85 million to $1.5 million, according to media tracker Advertising Analytics. The latest polls put Guadagno behind by 14 to 16 points, and analysts say, she’s still struggling for traction despite her insistence that property taxes top voter concerns.
“Anybody that pays high taxes in New Jersey, I think will come out and vote when they pay attention to what’s happening,” said Guadagno.
“Voters really weren’t paying attention: only 12 percent even knew Kim Guadagno even had a property tax plan. She just hasn’t had the ability or the money to get that word out there and break through to what I think is a very tired public right now. There’s very little room in people’s heads right now for any other politics other than what’s coming out of Washington and President Trump,” said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Guadagno and Rendo are both scheduled to crisscross all 21 New Jersey counties. At Guadagno’s first campaign stop, a microbrewery in Tinton Falls, where small business owners shared their worries about volatile politics, specifically questioning what tax gets cut and what costs might rise.
“It’s just a trickle down effect, and it will have to go down onto the taxpayer in the end,” said Neptune City Mayor Robert Brown.
“What scares me is the climate of the state. I need the state to be able to help the breweries grow. And keep growing. I want to have ten employees. I want to have 50 employees,” said Mike Skudera, co-owner of a local microbrewery.
“The problem with New Jersey right now, and I hear it time and time and time again, is even though you can find a job here, you can’t afford to live here,” said Guadagno.
Guadagno’s promise: If she doesn’t lower property taxes, she won’t run for re-election.
Guadagno and her running mate will meet for a rally Thursday night in Old Bridge, working to get out the vote in what’s expected to be a record low turnout, off-year election.