Why We Shouldn’t Forget About Kim Guadagno
A profile on the woman who finished second in the race for New Jersey Governor.
November 18, 2017
On November 7, 2017, Republican Kim Guadagno conceded the New Jersey gubernatorial election to Democrat Phil Murphy. Despite the fact that the public has already begun an autopsy on her failed campaign, Guadagno has not lost her relevancy and influence in our state’s political scene. In fact, 55% of Monmouth County voters hoped to see Guadagno occupy the governor’s office instead of her Democratic counterpart. Even though she forfeited the office of the highest elected official of the state, educating ourselves on Kim Guadagno is imperative, because in doing so, we learn about what over half of our community wishes to see in our leadership.
Kim Guadagno’s background is in law, akin to many politicians. She rose to prominence as a federal prosecutor, specializing in cases of public corruption. She served as assistant attorney general for New Jersey in 1999, leaving the office in 2001 to teach part-time at Rutgers Law School. Her interest in politics was piqued in 2005, when a dispute over a bus stop for her children substantiated the faults of her local government.
In 2008, Guadagno was elected as the 75th sheriff of Monmouth County in 2007, becoming the first woman to assume the position.
Only a year later, she became New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor. The role also awarded her with the duties of a secretary of state for New Jersey, which includes the regulation of elections and non-politically affiliated programs. Until Governor-Elect Phil Murphy is sworn in on January 16th, 2017, she will serve as acting governor whenever Governor Chris Christie is out of state (which she had done often when Christie was running for President last year). Guadagno also has valuable experience in generating jobs. She oversees New Jersey Partnership for Action, which seeks to expand the state’s economy, as well as the Red Tape Review Commission that exists to reduce bothersome regulations on businesses.
Unfortunately, Guadagno’s ties to Governor Christie, one of the most unpopular governors in our recent history (with a 15% approval rating), has negatively impacted her image. A Quinnipiac University poll discovered that 54% of voters expressed that Guadagno’s work with Governor Christie negatively impacted their view of her.
The lieutenant governor has attempted to distance herself from Christie by splitting with him on many of his staple policies. Refusing to defined by her colleague’s fallacies, Guadagno asserted, “Anybody who knows me, knows I’m not Chris Christie. I’m running on my record.”
Regardless of the ‘guilty-by-association’ perspective of many voters, Guadagno is still viewed as “approachable, unassuming, and easy to deal with” by her constituents, according to NJ.com.
Guadagno takes an unconventional position for a Republican on abortion rights. She supports a woman’s right to choose, although she wishes that less women will be inclined to partake in abortions in the future.
The current lieutenant governor opposes the legalization of marijuana, but she does not back its ban. She supports making it easier to use marijuana for medical purposes, as she stated, “Children with proper doctors should have access to medical marijuana. Veterans suffering from PTSD shouldn’t have to try every opioid before they get to marijuana.” She also seeks to decriminalize marijuana, saying that the possession of a small quantity of marijuana should not result in incarceration.
On the official campaign site for Kim Guadagno, her formula for how to improve New Jersey education is laid out. She believes that the key to a better education system is “reforming the antiquated school funding formula, expanding vocational education and apprenticeships, advancing merit pay for teachers, making higher education more flexible and affordable,” and “expanding school choice.”
When questioned on gun control, Guadagno replied, “I believe because New Jersey has among the strictest gun laws in the country, we should enforce the ones we have on the books.”
Therefore, she does not support passing new gun laws. She was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, which indicates that gun-owners believe that she can protect their right.
On energy and oil, the lieutenant governor swings left. NJ.com writes, “the stance most likely to alienate the Republican base was her position on climate change. Guadagno said she would support the installation of wind turbines along the coast.” She also stated that she would reenter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, if elected as governor.
Cutting property taxes is a major part of her platform. Guadagno pledged to veto any legislation that threatens to raise taxes. To limit the property tax, the candidate proposed a ‘circuit breaker’ system, which, her campaign site claims, would “cap the school portion of a homeowner’s property tax bill to 5% of their household income.” She also seeks to limit employee payouts for unused sick days, lower healthcare costs, generating more shared services and eliminating costly positions like superintendents and police chiefs, and reform the way in which schools are funded in the state.
In order to hold our capital accountable for how they spend the hard-earned money of their people, Guadagno also proposed an audit of Trenton. This would lower property taxes as it would pinpoint the areas in which Trenton can reduce spending. She also supports an elected Attorney General, rather than a governor-appointed one, to ensure that anyone holding the position would not be complicit in any monetary corruption within the government. State spending, she notes, should be “justified based upon need and cost.” She also would like to audit our state’s school districts to ensure that our taxes go directly towards improving education. Reforming the prices of school goods to be affordable for schools, selling state assets that no longer have to be under state control, ameliorating the road construction process, keeping the state debt within control, and opposing the costly plan to renovate Trenton’s State House are also courses of action that, Guadagno argues, are necessary to reduce taxes.
Guadagno developed a comprehensive formula for how to produce job growth in our state. She proposed that employers should become more military and veteran-friendly, that the state should promote their $40 billion tourism and travel industry, and proper infrastructure funding to make gas taxes and toll fees more affordable for the average commuter should be implemented.
A sanctuary city or state protects undocumented immigrants from deportation. Banning sanctuary cities was a part of the lieutenant governor’s agenda. She went after Phil Murphy for saying that he would implement sanctuary city policies in our state: “By making New Jersey a sanctuary state, Phil Murphy is saying he would rather protect dangerous criminals and murderers … than stand up for the law-abiding people of New Jersey.” Guadagno’s statement did not have much factual basis, because sanctuary cities will turn over undocumented immigrants to federal officials if they have committed a crime.
During Christie’s first term, Guadagno said that the Council on the Arts sloppily handled its public art projects and its state funding. The council’s executive director resigned due to the accusation. The state attorney general later found that the Council on the Arts was not at all as fraudulent as Guadagno claimed, and committed no crime.
In 2009, Sheriff Deborah Trout of Hunterdon County, who helped Guadagno with her run for lieutenant governor, was charged with misconduct and falsification of documents. After her case was dropped, the prosecutor Bennett Barlyn alleged that Guadagno ended the case for political reasons. He was fired for this allegation.
Another scandal occurred in 2014, where Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer claimed that Guadagno told her that the city’s Hurricane Sandy relief would only be delivered if Zimmer made sure that the zoning laws were changed to allow a real estate developer to develop a project in his city. However, Zimmer’s claim could not be proven in a court of law, and the case was closed.
During her concession speech, Guadagno remarked, “Never forget what we were fighting for. We will continue that fight for lower taxes and a safer New Jersey. We may have lost battle but we will win war.” This message should inspire hope for supporters of Guadagno. While she concedes the election, she realizes that her agenda resonated with her constituents, and this should give her reason to keep fighting for them. One can predict that she will continue to do battle with the Murphy administration on behalf of those who supported her. To the disdain of her adversaries and the delight of her adherents, she will not fade into obscurity.