As I write this we still don’t know for sure who the next governor of New Jersey is. Jack Ciattarelli shocked all the pollsters who never had him closer than six points. Many of the polls had him behind Murphy by double digits.

As you read this, perhaps the dust has settled and we know who our next governor will be. But as I write this, only 7,195 votes separate him from the incumbent governor, Phil Murphy. Ballots are still being counted. Talk about a cliffhanger of an election.

This reminds me of another gubernatorial race in New Jersey history when an incumbent governor was given a run for her money that no one seem to see coming. In 1997 challenger Jim McGreevey lost by only 26,953 votes, or 1.05%. This one might end up even closer.

Now here’s the interesting thing. If Phil Murphy hangs on to win a second term, will he be damaged goods for higher office? Chris Christie recently predicted that that’s exactly where Phil Murphy wants to go is to the White House. Back in the 90s many speculated that Christine Todd Whitman could be a shoo-in as a Republican candidate for president. But after the 1997 election she was considered a weak candidate for the role.

Could the same fate happen to Phil Murphy? Even if he does hang on to win, will an incumbent governor barely surviving a mostly unknown Republican challenger put a taint on any thoughts of higher office?

Probably.

Furthermore, you have to wonder if someone even as arrogant as Phil Murphy might be humbled and someone reigned in by this close race. Seeing how much visceral opposition there was to a second term, even if he’s granted one will it be a different second term than a stronger win would have played out?

Let’s hope so.

If he does hold on for the win perhaps the squeaker of an election will be an embarrassment enough for Phil Murphy to reign him in somewhat. Because Phil, if a progressive agenda is you’re number one issue, perhaps New Jersey just isn’t your state.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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