Kim Guadagno’s banging a harder right and doubling down. The Republican candidate for governor, who campaigned at the Whippany Diner Monday afternoon, has vowed to ban sanctuary cities. She’s already launched a widely-condemned attack ad against Democratic opponent Phil Murphy for wanting to make New Jersey a sanctuary state.
The ad’s been criticized for taking Murphy’s words out of context. Today Guadagno responded to Murphy’s sanctuary state idea by; proposing a ban that would block politicians from adopting sanctuary city policies in New Jersey; giving the governor authority to withhold funding or issue fines to sanctuary cities harboring violent criminals; and require law enforcement to cooperate with ICE and run background checks on “criminals” in New Jersey jails and prisons.
“If you’re an illegal immigrant and commit a crime in New Jersey you should be detained and deported,” said Guadagno. “It doesn’t take a lot of common sense and it’s also going to make sure that we don’t lose federal funding because Phil Murphy has recommended that there will be a sanctuary state.”
Guadagno says her proposal’s in line with her overall politics. Some analysts dispute that.
Matthew Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University, says Guadagno’s behind by double digits in the polls and looking for traction with an unfamiliar niche.
“Because that’s not who she is. She’s never, ever been a right-wing Republican. She has been a middle-of-the-road, pro-business, anti-tax Republican … For her to all of a sudden make this right-hand turn it has to be a calculation that she needs those voters to have any hope of winning,” explained Hale.
The Murphy campaign called Guadagno’s proposed sanctuary cities ban, “… just another attempt at diversion … Time and again she has been called out for misrepresenting the facts and driving division instead of promoting NJ as a fair and welcoming state …”
Murphy, who’s championed the cause of unauthorized immigrants, “Dreamers” and refugees, held a roundtable with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss voter registration reforms earlier Monday. Murphy underscored his agenda for the immigrant population.
“… statewide identifications for everybody, driver’s license access, regardless of status, Dreamers getting access to in-state financial aid, not just tuition, all of which we still stand for, but you’ve now then added onto that, you know, you will not use our state and local police to unlawfully use DACA data against Dreamers, or stop and frisk, or threaten to deport. So it’s gotten to not just playing offense, but playing defense,” Murphy said.
But the discussion came back to sanctuary cities and Guadagno’s ad.
“When all else fails, we know in the Trump era, that they go to fear,” said Holder, “They try to generate fear such that people will vote on fear as opposed to hope; fear as opposed to positive change.”
But Guadagno denied the fear-mongering charge, and said the tide has turned in the race. She pointed to all the big name Democrats campaigning for Murphy as proof.
When asked if she would like to have President Trump come in to campaign for her, Guadagno was non-committal.
“I haven’t figured that out,” she said, “Haven’t asked him. This is a New Jersey campaign and always has been.”
Guadagno says her internal polls show she’s tightened the race to less than a 7 point gap. She’s planning a statewide campaign bus tour next week.