Surprising Candidate Is Rising To The Top

Last weekend, when Rep. Andy Kim won his third consecutive race for the United States Senate, First Lady Tammy Murphy of New Jersey approached him to shake his hand and offer her congratulations.

This act of goodwill was unexpected.

Incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Menendez’s indictment on federal corruption charges last year was the sole reason the Senate seat became competitive. The three-term congressman, known for his calm demeanor, is facing an unusually tough campaign against a politically connected individual in a state where such ties matter greatly. Kim’s victories in three county committee votes thus far have given him unexpected momentum.

This is significant in the Democratic bastion of New Jersey, where primaries frequently determine the outcome of elections, and party bosses occasionally convene behind closed doors to select primary winners before the actual primaries. This week, Kim took issue with how counties select ballots in favor of party-affiliated candidates by suing in a federal court.

Despite their startling nature, Kim’s victories in three counties—including the home turf of the first lady and him—do little to resolve the matter. Party executives in the more populated counties of Bergen, Camden, and Essex have already given their support to Murphy, who has spent years building connections among state party leaders and hails from the world of high finance.

The question of whether Menendez will seek reelection remains unanswered. Many consider the charges against him to be the end of his career, and they have garnered tremendous headlines. The senator has taken a combative attitude and pled not guilty.

Kim’s victories indicate that the Democratic primary race will be difficult for all candidates. Kim is probably most renowned for cleaning up the U.S. Capitol following the January 6 rebellion three years ago. Murphy, on the other hand, is married to Gov. Phil Murphy.

The two will face off in this clash.

Many political watchers share Kim’s concern that Murphy could have an unfair advantage from New Jersey’s system of favoring politicians favored by local insiders, and his lawsuit shows that he still feels this way.