ROONEY RANTS: Murphy wouldn’t be talking about Bridgegate if he was up 15

There are less than three weeks to go before New Jersey votes,  Save Jerseyans, and Phil Murphy’s team is on television attacking GOP nominee Kim Guadagno for… Bridgegate.

The 30-second, state-wide spot which went up on Tuesday features Murphy, standing in front of the George Washington Bridge and grinning like an idiot, declaring that Christie and Guadagno’s “biggest triumph was a traffic jam.” Everyone knows Chris Christie is unpopular, so the Murphy camp calculation is that Guadagno’s complete LACK of a connection to the infamous government affairs scandal isn’t an obstacle.

“The ad is pathetic and completely ignores reality — Kim Guadagno had nothing to do with Bridgegate and everyone knows it,” Guadagno Spokesman Ricky Diaz shot back after the ad hit.

Pathetic? Sure. It’s also revelatory as the latest hard evidence that Phil Murphy is not leading by 16-17 points (which is the current RCP average of public polling in the New Jersey gubernatorial race). A top ten political rule is that you don’t spend $$$ talking about an opponent, particularly one with relatively uninspiring name recognition in her own right, when he or she is waaay down, and you don’t do it for the same reason that the boxer keeps the wrestler at arm’s length.

Why wrap’em up? Keep’em up? And create a chance for unintended, self-inflicted damage?

Nope. Murphy is attacking Guadagno, in all likelihood, because his internal polling shows a single digit race consistent with Guadagno’s own internal polling and, possibly, real Guadagno momentum.

One thought? On the possible momentum front?

Kim’s Sanctuary ad that just started running this week. Check out some early numbers from Virginia where Republican Ed Gillespie is going  a similar route: 

There are some big differences between New Jersey, demographically (VA is less blue) and from a campaign finance point of view (Murphy can out-spend Guadagno 5-to-1 down the home stretch). Still…

Stay tuned, folks. The Fat Lady hasn’t sung. Not yet; Murphy’s ad strategy is all the proof you need.