Time’s up for Democrats and Republicans thinking of jumping into this year’s race for governor.
Monday marked the deadline for those candidates to file petitions to run. The primary is set for June 6.
It’s hardly just the start of the primary, though.
Hopefuls have been competing since as early as May; county political organizations have handed out the influential party line, which determines a candidate’s ballot position; and cash has long been flowing into campaign coffers.
On the Democratic side, wealthy former ambassador Phil Murphy is leading in polls, has key establishment and interest group support, and is self-funding.
Murphy dropped off six cardboard boxes containing what he said were 42,000 signatures, far above the 1,000 needed.
“This is something we’re proud of in particular because it’s another statement from our perspective of our mentality and the way we’ve approached this election, which is we’re taking it to the streets,” he said.
Among the other Democrats who met the threshold according to the Division of Elections are former Bill Clinton administration Treasury official Jim Johnson, state Sen. Ray Lesniak and Tenafly councilman Mark Zinna. A spokesman for Assemblyman John Wisniewski says he has delivered the petitions as well.
Johnson has qualified for public matching funds and has received about $900,000. Murphy has pledged to spend $10 million of his own cash in the race. Wisniewski has also qualified for matching funds after reaching the $430,000 threshold.
Among Republicans, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is leading in polls and delivered more than 4,000 signatures, according to the Division of Elections. Also meeting the threshold were Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, businessman Joe Rullo and engineer Hirsh Singh.
Guadagno has received more than $800,000 in public matching funds. Ciattarelli announced he recently reached the $430,000 fundraising threshold to qualify for the funds as well.
Two Democratic and two Republican debates are expected in the contest, but dates have not been set. Murphy said Monday he would participate in the debates, even though he’s not required because he is not accepting public funding.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie is term limited and set to leave office when his second administration ends in January.
Independent candidates seeking to get into the race have until June 6 to collect the needed signatures and file paperwork to run.
The state’s primaries are closed, meaning only registered Democrats and Republicans may vote in each party’s contest. The voter registration deadline for the primary is May 16.