Updated June 18, 2017
Posted June 18, 2017
BY STAR-LEDGER STAFF
The following exchange between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean took place via phone last week.
(NJ Advance Media file photos)
Q: Now that we have official gubernatorial candidates, how is the race looking at the start?
GOV. BYRNE: Kim Guadagno is starting off with some convincing energy, and she is impressive. But I think this year is a Democratic year, and they’ve started out with almost a million-strong advantage in early registration. They want to win the governorship, and that will give them an advantage. Plus in Murphy they’ve got a guy who is ready to work hard. There are only two candidates in the field, and Kim is one of them. But I don’t think it will be a close contest.
GOV. KEAN: There are two good candidates at the starting line. Murphy, of course, is the favorite in a state with 800,000 more Democrats than Republicans. But look, Kim Guadagno is an able woman with a solid background in law enforcement and a record of creating jobs. It should be a good race.
Q: Both candidates have some potential negatives – Guadagno’s ties to an unpopular governor, Murphy’s Goldman Sachs background. Are you optimistic this can still be a positive rather than a negative campaign?
GOV. BYRNE: I think political campaigns are negative, basically. And the electorate responds to that.
GOV. KEAN: Politicians go negative because negative works. Until we, the people, stop responding favorably to negativity, it’s only going to proliferate. Political operatives are paid millions of dollars to make negative ads. Researchers are paid millions of dollars to dig up every negative thing candidates have ever done in their lives. At the end of the day, a lot of good people choose not to run rather than to subject themselves to all the negativity.
Q: What do you think each candidate should be looking for in a running mate?
BYRNE: Something notable and different that they bring to the table. Experience counts as well. Trenton can be a difficult place to navigate. I would want someone who’s got some positive aspects to his or her campaign.
KEAN: They should choose a running mate who’s got the qualifications to run the state in case they, like most recent governors, fail to complete their term. Hopefully, their running mates will also already have distinguished themselves in some area of public life.