“The No. 1 issue remains the pandemic, and on that issue, Phil Murphy has a 50% to 23% trust advantage.”

Those were the words of Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray. He was speaking of the just released poll regarding the gubernatorial race between incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.

You can read about all this here in Michael Symons' article. But I ask you to look at two parts.

First, the pandemic. A 50% to 23% advantage for Murphy is impressive. But besides being undeserved, it should not be the number one issue on voters' minds. Undeserved because while we think of a governor's handling of the pandemic in terms directly related to medicine, it is much more than that.

Sure, you can argue he followed the science. Some might say he followed only when it suited him. Such as before the Delta variant came along and the CDC recommended easing masking restrictions and Murphy was among the last to do so.

Following the science also didn't seem to come into play when over 8,000 elderly people died in nursing homes because so many were infected and sent back from hospitals allowing it to spread like wildfire. He failed to realize a nursing home couldn't isolate residents and protect other residents the way an actual hospital could do with patients.

But the pandemic handling isn't just about medicine. It's how it affected everything, and there he fell apart.

When he ordered business to shut down he had no urgent emergency plan in place to shore up personnel or systems at the Labor Department to handle the obvious coming tidal wave of unemployment claims. He made the executive decision to bar people from working but had no plan to help them.

He failed again with the Motor Vehicle Commission. Shutting down those agencies without having a comprehensive plan for when they reopened was beyond stupid. It doesn't take a genius to realize there would be a stampede of back business to be conducted. The result of no workable plan was people sleeping in parking lots outside of MVC offices overnight just to be turned away anyway.

This is handling a pandemic? Again, it's more than just the disease. It's how your handling of it will impact everything else.

Then there's the second thing I'd ask you to think about. Read Symons' article and notice where the numbers are on which candidate is more trusted regarding taxes. Ciattarelli beats Murphy 39% to 33%. With good reason.

Ciattarelli knows we didn't need the bloated budget we have now. He knows we didn't need to borrow the billions of dollars that only served to pad this year's budget and basically buy the election.

Ciattarelli is a businessman and was born and raised here and witnessed the hard work of his parents in Raritan and the decline of an overtaxed, overburdened New Jersey and remembers it wasn't always this way.

Here's the thing.

If you're basing your vote on the pandemic as being the number one issue as Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray suggests, you're making a huge mistake. This pandemic, while painful, will be behind us. It is temporary even under the worst case scenario. Taxes? That's a permanent problem and a bigger issue. They impact everything else. And the economic downward spiral of New Jersey will only continue for at least another 4 years under a second Murphy term.

It's hard to see it because taxes and school funding and property taxes and all the rest have been such a problem for so long and the pandemic is scary and steals headlines. But this will indeed pass. And what will we be left with? Irresponsible borrowing that broke constitutional norms? No end in sight in pandering to unions? Using taxpayer money to give millions a year in free lawyers to illegal immigrants fighting deportation?

More people have a gut telling them Ciattarelli will do a better job with our taxes and our money. Go with your gut. That my friend should be your number issue. And to reboot a phrase from our current governor, if you're a single issue voter and taxes are your issue, then Phil Murphy is not your governor.

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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