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NJ First Lady’s Exit From Senate Primary Boosts Rival Kim

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy’s surprise exit from the Democratic Senate primary clears the way for Representative Andy Kim in the race for the seat held by embattled US Senator Robert Menendez.

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Murphy suspended her campaign on Sunday, saying “continuing in this race will involve waging a very divisive and negative campaign, which I am not willing to do.”

Murphy, whose husband is Governor Phil Murphy, announced her bid in November with a video in which she discussed maternal mortality and climate change. Both she and her husband previously worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Menendez, who has pleaded not guilty to federal bribery charges, said last week he won’t seek reelection as a Democratic candidate but left open the possibility of running as an independent to retain his Senate seat. Menendez’s approval has dropped to lows with few voters supporting his candidacy, polls show.

Kim thanked Murphy for her service to New Jersey and pledged to run “the strongest possible campaign imaginable,” according to his response to her departure posted on X, formerly Twitter.

He represents a district encompassing Philadelphia’s eastern suburbs and the Trenton area.

Kim was leading Murphy in a February poll by 32% to 20% among likely Democratic primary voters. Even so, Murphy had the support of many county Democratic Party bosses.

Earlier this year, Kim filed suit in federal court seeking to eliminate a New Jersey practice that gives candidates chosen by the county party leaders prominent placement on the ballot, creating few opportunities for aspirants without deep political connections.

With the primary filing deadline Monday, a ruling could come as soon as this week.

Read more: New Jersey First Lady Murphy to Run for Menendez Senate Seat “

--With assistance from Kayla Sharpe, Brandon Lee and Jeannie Baumann.

(Updates with statement from Kim in fifth paragraph)

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