Hang on to your hats! Nutley public affairs commissioner Steve Rogers has just announced he’s running for governor as a Republican.


New Jersey’s gubernatorial election is still almost a year away, but candidates are starting to come out of the woodwork.

Not counting Rogers, who remains a virtual unknown notwithstanding his stint advising Donald Trump in his presidential campaign and appearances on Fox News Channel, there are already six other declared and potential candidates in both parties.

Unfortunately for them, most voters have no idea who they are.

“Despite some having spent years in the public eye and campaigning heavily to become the public’s favorite, we find the entire field are virtual unknowns to a majority of Garden state voters,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, and former U.S. Treasury official and federal prosecutor Jim Johnson have declared.

“Although Murphy announced early and has campaigned aggressively, he’s known to only 39 percent of registered voters,” she said.

The poll finds 18 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of him, while 9 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion.

Jenkins noted Wisniewski, of Sayreville, is known to about 31 percent, “despite having served as a state Assemblyman since 1996 and co-chairing the legislative committee charged with investigating the Bridgegate affair.”

The poll finds 10 percent have a favorable opinion of Wisniewski, while 10 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

Meanwhile, Johnson is familiar to about 1 in 4 voters, or 24 percent.

On the Republican side, two-term Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has a lead over her GOP opponents in the name recognition department.

“Despite occupying one of the state’s only two statewide elected positions, she’s known to only 40 percent of the voters, with opinion divided equally between those who have a favorable and unfavorable opinion of her,” she said.

“We’ll have to see if Lt. Gov. Guadagno can emerge from Gov. Christie’s shadow. Her close connection to him may hurt, given his historically low approval ratings.”

Jenkins pointed out their recent public disagreement over the gas tax amendment on November’s ballot “is an example of how she might raise her profile and distinguish her independence from the governor, but right now it looks like the majority of registered voters don’t even know who she is.”

The poll finds Guadagno’s two rivals, Somerset County Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and Ocean County resident Joseph Rullo, are known to fewer than 20 percent of voters.

So which party do the voters think can do the most to solve the state’s problems?

“Fifty percent believe neither party has the right answers," Jenkins said. About 28 percent place their faith with the Democrats while 20 percent side with the GOP.

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