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New Jersey's first lady Tammy Murphy suspends Senate campaign against Andy Kim

New Jersey's first lady Tammy Murphy suspends Senate campaign against Andy Kim

New Jersey's first lady Tammy Murphy is ending her Senate campaign, cutting short what was shaping up to be a protracted Democratic primary against Rep. Andy Kim.

Murphy announced her decision in a video posted Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

She said she was ending her bid "after many busy, invigorating and, yes, challenging months."

"I have been genuine and factual throughout, but it is clear to me that continuing in this race will involve waging a very divisive and negative campaign -- which I am not willing to do," she continued, going on to urge party unity ahead of the general election without explicitly endorsing Kim, who is now the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

"With Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources tearing down a fellow Democrat," Murphy said in her video.

Already, she and Kim had traded barbs over who could best represent New Jerseyans and the quirky nature of the state's nominating process.

With her out of the race, Kim's path to the Democratic nomination is largely clear. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who has been dogged by charges of corruption and other alleged crimes, which he denies, announced last week that he won't run in the Democratic primary but could explore an independent reelection bid should he be cleared of wrongdoing.

PHOTO: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Andy Kim talks to reporters and New Jersey first lady and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Murphy talks to reporters at the Bergen County Democratic convention in Paramus, N.J., March 4, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP)
PHOTO: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Andy Kim talks to reporters and New Jersey first lady and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Murphy talks to reporters at the Bergen County Democratic convention in Paramus, N.J., March 4, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP)

A source familiar with Murphy's strategy insisted that her decision to leave the primary was genuinely fueled by a reluctance to contribute to intraparty divisions -- not concerns over her path, with this source citing her immense personal resources and establishment support.

"It was going to be a bloody primary," said this person, who asked not to be quoted by name to speak more freely. "But she, in a year with Trump on the ticket, didn't feel like she should engage in a bloody, divisive primary against another Democrat," the source added.

In his own statement, Kim also touted unity and said he looks forward to working with Murphy.

"Tammy Murphy has been a voice for progress and public service in our state, and I respect her decision to carry on that work as First Lady. Tammy and I both agree that it is critical that we keep this seat, and the Senate, in Democratic control," he said.

"Unity is vital. We will continue our efforts to strengthen our democracy in New Jersey while we come together to stand up against the dangerous agenda pushed by Trump. I will look forward to working alongside her, and the Governor, between now and November, and I hope to work alongside them to fight for New Jersey if I’m elected to represent our amazing state in the U.S. Senate."

Prior to ending her campaign, Murphy had racked up endorsements from party leaders in several of New Jersey's largest counties, helping secure her the crucial "line" placement on June 4 primary ballots.

That spot is seen by many as playing an outsized role in election results, because candidates on the line are seen first, while others can be arranged in other, less notable parts of the ballot.

Contenders running without that placement get slotted in what one critical group termed "ballot Siberia."

The line in some counties is set by a nominating convention held by elected delegates while in other counties, it is determined solely by the endorsement of the county party chair.

Murphy had won the endorsements of chairs in Essex and Middlesex and won the nominating convention in Bergen, clinching the line in the state's three largest counties.

Kim, who was running a more grassroots-centered campaign that earned him polling leads, had warned that the system overall was ripe for favoritism but was particularly prone to abuse in a year when the first lady was vying for support from county party chairs with a litany of business in front of the governor, Phil Murphy.

"It's not even a secret in New Jersey that this is an unfair advantage," Kim said in an interview with ABC News earlier this month.

Advocates of the current system have argued that it's appropriate for county parties to offer an imprimatur to tell voters who deserves to carry the party mantle into November.

Kim -- who previously made national headlines for helping clean up the U.S. Capitol after Jan. 6 -- now faces no serious opposition in the primary, as eyes turn to the general election and whether Menendez will run as an independent against Kim and the eventual nominee from a GOP field that includes Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner, former TV reporter Alex Zdan and more.

New Jersey's first lady Tammy Murphy suspends Senate campaign against Andy Kim originally appeared on abcnews.go.com