⚫ New Jersey 101.5 morning host Bill Spadea is a leading GOP gubernatorial contender

⚫ Jack Ciattarelli, the 2021 Republican nominee, is the frontrunner

⚫ On the Democratic side, Congresswoman Mikie Sherill and first lady Tammy Murphy are considered frontrunners

Who do you think the next governor of New Jersey should be?

The 2025 gubernatorial election in Jersey is still more than two years away but a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds 2021 Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli and New Jersey 101.5 morning show host Bill Spadea, who has not announced a candidacy, have early advantages in the GOP race.

U.S. Rep.Mikie Sherill, D NJ 11th District, and first lady Tammy Murphy have the highest favorability ratings among Democrats.

FDU Poll Executive Director Dan Cassino said the frontrunner Ciattarelli did unexpectedly well against Phil Murphy in the 2021 race for governor, 76% of Republicans in the Garden State know who he is and he’s got a 47% favorability rating, with an unfavorability rating of 6%.

Election 2021 New Jersey

Spadea gets high marks

He said when it comes to favorability ratings, Spadea comes in 2nd with 37% name recognition among Republicans, a 26% favorability rate, and 3% unfavorable.

“Spadea really is in the catbird’s seat right now. He has higher name recognition than other Republicans statewide, and he’s got a platform and that would certainly help him if he chose to actually run for the governorship," he said.

On the Democratic side, Cassino said the frontrunner right now looks like Sherill.

“While she only has a 41% recognition rate among statewide Democrats, she has a 28% favorability rate, ... a little higher than we get from any other Democrat.”

He said she only has a 1% unfavorable rating among Democrats, which means she is very popular among people who know about her, and Sherill is considered a world-class fundraiser, which is a key reason why she had not faced any strong Republican challengers in the 11th District.

Tammy Snyder Murphy
AP Photo

Tammy Murphy a leading contender

Cassino said another strong possible contender to run for governor on the Democratic side is Gov. Murphy’s wife, who has a 27% favorability rating.

‘We have no indication that Tammy Murphy actually wants to run, she hasn’t said anything about it, but there are certainly a lot of people in Trenton who have spoken about her as being someone who potentially could run.”

He said after that the second tier of possible Democratic challengers includes Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and former State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who has already announced he plans to run.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has also been mentioned.

Other possible Republican candidates include state Sen. Mike Testa, R-Cape May, with a 41% name recognition, and state Sen. Holly Schepisi, with 22% name recognition.

Candidates coming out of the woodwork

Cassino said others not asked about in the poll include Republican state Sens. Jon Bramnick and Declan O’Shanlon. Democratic Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, and 2017 gubernatorial candidate and former Assemblyman John Wisniewski are also believed to be interested in running.

He said a lot of candidates in both parties are laying the groundwork for a possible gubernatorial run but at this point, “this is a wide-open race."

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

Every NJ celebrity with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

25 True Crime Locations: What Do They Look Like Today?

Below, find out where 25 of the most infamous crimes in history took place — and what the locations are used for today. (If they've been left standing.)

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM