There you have it. More than 400 days of a lockdown. MVC offices closed, unemployment benefits stalled, almost a third of businesses may not open again, highest taxes in the nation, thousands of excess deaths, aging and failing transportation and energy infrastructure, all add up to a 57% approval rating for the governor.

According to a recent poll, half the state wants to see Murphy re-elected. Are you surprised? Is it that the GOP is so bad in NJ that keeping with the "devil you know" is a better option? Seems that for all of the arrogance, overreach and deadly results from misguided policy decisions, people are still mostly approving of the governor's job performance.

What would you need to hear from a challenger to say that he or she would have your vote against the governor? Currently there are four Republican challengers on the ballot vying for the chance to take on the gov in the Fall. Here's my quick take on each:

Jack Ciattarelli:

  • Former member of the NJ Assembly.
  • He's got all of the Republican establishment support.
  • An outspoken critic of former President Trump.
  • Did not oppose the lockdown imposed by Murphy and is focused on taxes and spending policies, but has been light on specifics.
  • The positive for Jack is he has raised more money than other challengers to date and will have whatever structure is left in the NJGOP to help get the vote out.
  • The question is whether Jack represents the GOP of Chris Christie, who arguably left the state worse than when he started, or if he will be the same guy, paying lip service to NJ problems while thinking about higher office.

Philip Rizzo:

  • Pastor and political outsider.
  • Phil launched his campaign after conservative, former NJGOP chairman Doug Steinhart dropped out.
  • Rizzo is the only candidate who actively opposed the lockdowns by keeping his church open throughout.
  • He has pledged to end all lockdown measures and in my opinion best reflects the needs of working and middle class families as he is not a professional politician and has specifically pointed to the success of Governor DeSantis's policies in Florida as a map for NJ's future.
  • Phil has the energy and grasp of policy needed in Trenton. He is the only candidate who has really identified the stark contrast between the corrupt Trenton government and what is needed to restore liberty and prosperity in NJ.

Hirsh Singh:

  • Has run for office multiple times.
  • He's the most conservative candidate in the race and has shaped the argument as "pro-Trump" vs. "never-Trump".
  • Hirsh is a good guy, but has had difficulty raising money and I think misses the mark on what is important to NJ voters.
  • In my opinion, Trump is old news and is irrelevant to the battle to turn NJ around.
  • Would make a great NJGOP chairman to rebuild the party after the election.

Brian Levine:

  • Former mayor of Franklin Township in Somerset County.
  • He had a very successful track record as an executive and the only candidate in the race with political executive experience.
  • Brian has run before and has a lot to offer when it comes to policy, but similar to Hirsh, has trouble in the fundraising department.
  • Should be a part of the next government.
  • Brian's expertise and thoughtful approach to policy would be a great asset to state government.
  • He joined me to discuss how he won his elections in an overwhelmingly Democratic town, plus how he would specifically lower taxes by cutting excessive salaries and overlap of services.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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