TOMS RIVER-For almost eight years, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno has resided in the large shadow cast by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
At a Governor’s forum held in Toms River on Tuesday, Guadagno tried to get out from behind Christie’s shadow and answered to the backseat role she said she was delegated by him.
“The Governor wanted the Lt. Governor to do one thing, bring jobs back to New Jersey,” she told an audience of Ocean County GOP members. “That’s what I did.”
She also shirked off the idea from her competitors, Joe Rullo and Jack Ciattarelli over her reluctant stance on public debates.
“I was a federal prosecutor and carried a gun when I was sheriff,” she said. “Think I’m afraid of a debate?”
Despite being number two in charge for the past eight years in a state that ranks in the bottom ten percent in many areas, she told the audience she can do what needs to be done to right the sinking ship.
Her opponents have called her “Silent Kim” for not speaking out against the 23% gas tax hike and for avoiding public debates to this point. In fact, one opponent Jack Ciattarelli has launched a website at www.silentkim.com, challenging her to a debate in all 21 New Jersey counties. The counter on the website today was at 36 days since Ciattarelli issued the challenge.
Guadagno, like Ciattarelli, will have to overcome is their branding as a “Never Trumpers” after both refused to back the GOP’s headliner last November, a decision that could cost them both dearly, especially during the Republican primaries.
“I will be voting,” Guadagno said at the time. “I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I will not be voting for Trump.”
“Every Republican who is not working for Trump is working for Clinton,” Christie said during the campaign.
Two days after the forum, in an online poll conducted by the Asbury Park Press, Guadagno is polling at just 3%, trailing Rullo (45.9%) and Steve Rogers (39%). In fact, she’s even trailing Hirsch Singh, an Atlantic County man who just announced is candidacy Tuesday night.