Huge turnout in Union City helped former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy win the Democratic primary for Governor with 48% of the vote statewide in a divided Democratic field.

It’s a good thing Murphy will oppose a Republican nominee, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, for whom Republican voters seem equally unenthusiastic for. Guadagno, who has been Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor for nearly eight years now, got about 47% of the vote statewide and less than half of the county’s Republican voters (1,988 of 4,201). Guadagno now runs in a general election, saddled with the microscopic approval ratings of her boss, term-limited Governor Chris Christie. 

The Republican story, if there is one, was the fact unknown Hirsh Singh came in second among Hudson Republicans, beating Jack Ciattarelli (an Assemblyman from Morris County) by 11 votes in the county and getting more than 10 percent statewide.

However, the juicy story in Hudson County was turnout and the success, or lack of it, of certain political leaders in getting the vote out for Murphy, who was endorsed by just about everyone. Murphy did better in Hudson County than he did statewide, but a town by town analysis shows the credit for that should go almost entirely to Union City. Murphy got 31,232 votes (64.5%) of the Hudson Democratic vote, but one quarter of that came from Union City.

Murphy’s Union City numbers were due to the strong turnout and perhaps due to mayor / state senator Brian Stack’s door to door campaigning. Murphy got 7,801, or 74%, of the Democratic primary votes in Union City out of 10,554 total votes. That was the second-highest total for Murphy in the county, behind only Jersey City. But turnout was a remarkable 56% of that city’s approximately 18,838 registered Democrats.

Union City’s effort is a contrast to North Bergen, roughly the same size (18,444 registered Democrats as of the last primary). North Bergen had a much lower turnout. Only 39% of registered Democrats went to vote, so Murphy got about one-third fewer votes (5,018 of the 7,216 votes cast, or 69%) than from its same-size comparable neighbor.    

Murphy got the most votes from Jersey City, getting 9,540 from that city whose mayor, Steven Fulop, was expected to run this year for Governor until declining to run late last year. However, in a city of approximately 60,666 registered Democrats (three times more than Union City or Jersey City), Murphy actually ran worse than he did statewide (under 47% of the vote) and overall turnout was barely over one third of registered Democrats. 

That should raise eyebrows, particularly because there were contested primary elections in the 31st Assembly District (where incumbents Angela McKnight and Nicholas Chiaravallotti handily defeated by more than two to one the challengers Christopher Munoz and Kristen Zadroga-Hart).  

In a final note, longtime Democratic State Senator Raymond Lesniak got only 1,115 votes (2.3%), despite the name recognition you would expect from someone in public office for almost 40 years.