Former Goldman Sachs Executive Phil Murphy — considered the frontrunner in the June Democratic gubernatorial primary in New Jersey — has already set his sites on Republicans. Despite the fact that Murphy still has to clear the primary field in order to become the Democratic nominee for governor, on Tuesday the candidate launched a campaign ad targeting Republican President Donald Trump.
In the ad — which will air on TV in the region — Murphy blasts Trump for policies in areas like immigration and women’s health.
“As governor I will defend New Jersey and stand up to President Trump every time he attacks the vulnerable or defies our constitution,” Murphy said in the ad.
Murphy’s decision to ignore the Democratic field of candidates — which includes the likes of Assemblyman John Wisniewski, state Senator Ray Lesniak and former U.S. Treasury official Jim Johnson, among others — shows Murphy’s confidence that he will be the Democratic nominee for governor. By making a large ad buy focused on national issues early on, Murphy is setting himself up to be a start contrast to Republican primary challengers who are less likely to speak about Trump in such certain terms or in such a visible way.
The Murphy campaign’s choice to run ads focusing on national issues also sets the candidate up to gain notoriety among voters who remain largely unfamiliar with any of the potential candidates in the race. According to a January report from the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, 64 percent of voters were unfamiliar with Murphy. In that same poll, Wisniewski was unknown to 67 percent of voters.
While the Democratic primary is still far from decided, Murphy has the endorsement of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and influential Democratic officials from all over the state.
Watch the ad here: