Surviving November 3, 2020 was a feat in and of itself, but we all know that elections start coming and they don’t stop coming, and so we’re already thinking ahead to 2021! Luckily, there are fewer elections in the off-years, but there’s not none! 

In 2021, there are two gubernatorial races to watch. Both seats are currently held by Democrats. One is seeking re-election, and the other is term-limited. 

Here’s what you need to know, and how you can get involved. 

New Jersey

Democrat Phil Murphy was elected in 2017 to govern New Jersey, and took office in January 2018. Murphy previously worked at Goldman Sachs. He was the Ambassador to Germany under President Obama and took over the governorship from Republican Chris Christie. 

In the 2017 race, Murphy beat Republican Kim Guadagno, 56% to her 41.9%. Murphy currently serves as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. 

Murphy has announced his intention to run in 2021, though he did have cancer-removal surgery in early 2020–with no complications–so that’s something to keep an eye on. 

The other major candidate this term so far is Jack Ciattrelli, a Republican, who also ran in 2017 but did not advance past the primary. Ciattarelli previously served in the state’s General Assembly, and has also had his own bout with cancer that he’s overcome.  Hirsh Singh, a perennial candidate for the state’s offices including Senator and Governor, is also expected to run. 

It’s possible that Guadagno will run again, leading to an interesting primary situation. 

While New Jersey is considered a blue state, and Murphy is considered the favorite to win his second-term, it was not too long ago that the state elected Chris Christie to the governor’s mansion. 

However, it is important to point out that while New Jersey limits their governors to two consecutive terms, they do not limit total terms, so if he wanted to, Chris Christie could run again. His decision to do that would likely depend on how early 2021 goes for the Republican party. 

In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won 57.2% of the state, with Trump winning 41.6%. The state’s General Assembly is also controlled by Democrats, who hold 52 seats to the Republicans 32. 

Will the voters want to go back to the Republican governor they had before Murphy? Will they continue their pretty habitual party switch when it comes to the governor’s office? 

Only time will tell!

Reach out to the Republican Party of New Jersey if you’re interested in getting involved. 

Virginia

Ralph Northam is finishing his term as the governor of Virginia. He is unable to run for re-election due to Virginia law that governors cannot serve consecutive terms. 

Virginia, like New Jersey, is pretty blue these days, but has had some Republican successes in the recent past. 

On the Democratic side, a few people have declared their candidacy, including currently Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax (who has his own scandals), Terry McAuliffe, the state’s former governor, and a few state politicians. 

On the Republican side, Amanda Chase, a state senator, has declared, along with an Army veteran, and the former Speaker of the State assembly has also filed paperwork to run. I would suspect that since Virginia could “flip”–at least that’s the goal of many Republicans–we will see a lot of GOP candidates, strong and weak, and a few strong Democrat candidates. I suspect the state party will want only strong Democrats with existing positions within the government to run to keep the unity close. 

In the state assembly, Democrats hold slight leads over Republicans in both chambers. 

Will voters want to go far away from Northam, or embrace his successor? Will Virginia turn red? 

If you want to work on a GOP campaign in the race this year, you’ll have lot of options, trust me. Keep an eye on the Republican Party of Virginia for opportunities. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member