The two-party system is still in effect in New Jersey — but sometimes you might think otherwise.

When important issues arise, the focus always seems to be whether Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy will be able to work out a deal with Democratic State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex to get legislation passed

Usually, the Republicans are an afterthought.

“The problem is the Republicans are at a structural disadvantage,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “They don’t have the numbers in the legislature to be a formidable force. They don’t have the kind of funding that’s necessary to run campaigns statewide.”

He said many times Republicans in New Jersey may be unified in holding a particular position, but they just don’t have a voice.

“Part of this goes back to the Christie years. Christie did not help build a farm team for the Republicans, so there’s really not any stars out there," Murray said.

Ben Dworkin, the director of the Rowan University Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship, agrees.

“You don’t have control of the governor's office, so it’s not like you had someone as they did with Chris Christie to clearly be the head of the party," Dworkin said.

He pointed out there’s another problem as well — and his name is Donald Trump.

“Because they have a president who is rather divisive certainly here in New Jersey, it is much more difficult for Republicans,” Dworkin said.

Murray believes Republicans do have a number of legislators who could emerge as the new face of the party.

“Jon Bramnick (R-Union), the leader of the Republicans in the Assembly, has really stepped forward, although he’s stepping forward in an era when everything about the Republican party is Trump, and he’s trying to be an anti-Trump," Murray said.

He also mentioned State Senator Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, as individuals who could emerge as leaders down the line — but “it’s just very, very difficult for a Republican brand right now.”

Murray pointed out the number of Republicans in the legislature is so small “they can’t form enough of a coalition to try and peel off a few Democrats.

"The Democrats just have such a large majority that they can pass almost anything without any Republican support whatsoever," Murray said.

Dworkin noted for the GOP in Jersey, there is nowhere to go but up.

“The benefit of being at this kind of low point electorally for New Jersey Republicans is that you can go up, and new talent finds a way to emerge.”

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