A group of notable Newark leaders spoke out as one to protest the release by the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno of a highly negative attack ad slamming Phil Murphy, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Across the board, all of these major city players, including a pastor and prominent politicians, called out Guadagno, who has served as Gov. Chris Christie's lieutenant governor for almost eight years, for putting out an ad that they found to be extremely offensive and totally unacceptable. 

The ad was released this week less that four weeks before the Nov. 7 election.

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"Kim Guadagno and her campaign have unleashed the most despicable political advertisement I’ve ever seen. It is cruel and insensitive, not just to the City of Newark and our proud communities, but to the families whose wounds she is reopening for the sake of partisan politics," said Pastor Ronald Slaughter of Newark's Saint James AME Church, which is one of the largest African-American church congregations in the state's largest city.

"Her advertisement would be similar to one opposing gun safety laws by using the tragic events of Sandy Hook and Las Vegas," Slaughter said. "We have to be able to put the open wounds of grieving family members above political ambitions and fights. At a time when we should be lifting up our communities in hope and seeking a higher level of public dialogue, her campaign is sinking us lower into the muck."

"Over the years, I have corresponded numerous times with the Lieutenant Governor, on issues ranging from social justice concerns to the values of Dr. King. She always noted her agreement with me. Now, I have serious doubts over the sincerity of her commitment," said Slaughter, an early supporter of Murphy, who prayed with the candidate at Saint James AME on the day that Murphy launched his gubernatorial campaign in May 2016.

"When I spoke to the Lieutenant Governor this morning, I shared with her this isn’t about politics for me. It’s about people who are being further wounded because of political rhetoric,” Slaughter said.

"When I saw the Willie Horton ad in 1988, I thought we hit a new low in American politics," said state Sen. Ron Rice (D-28), referring to the caustic and divisive ad released by the campaign of then-Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush before his eventual victory over Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential candidate that year.

"When I saw Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno's ad yesterday, I knew we hit a new low. My heart goes out to the families who have to relive this horrific tragedy because of Kim Guadagno's desperate attempt to appeal to people's basest fears for political points," Rice said.

"I am outraged and disgusted by the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign ad. It is deplorable that she is exploiting the tragedies suffered by families in our community in a disingenuous ad that seeks to cast an entire population of residents as criminals," said state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), whose district includes Newark's heavily Latino North and East Wards.

"This is designed to create racial, ethnic and cultural divisions in our state and to pit groups of residents against others. This has no place in our discourse. As one of the most diverse states in the nation, we must stand together to condemn these kinds of actions," Ruiz said. 

“Like Donald Trump, there is no limit to the lies that the Republican candidate for governor is telling. Donald Trump’s big lie is to equate murderers and rapists with peaceful undocumented immigrants who contribute to our economy. In her latest TV ad, the Republican candidate for governor does exactly the same thing," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.

“Newark is a sanctuary city because we are not going to sacrifice thousands of people who live among us, who are part of our community, and who contribute to the economy and vitality of our city. We are not going to tear families apart. Phil Murphy proposes to make that the policy of the entire state," Baraka said.

“Murders and rapists and other serious criminals in Newark and throughout America are prosecuted to the full extent of the law regardless of their immigration status," Baraka added.

"So, when the Republican candidate for governor says that Phil Murphy has the backs of murderers and rapists, she is repeating one of Donald Trump’s most despicable lies," the mayor said. "The Republican TV ad is yet another reminder of how important it is to vote this year to strike powerful blow against the Trump/Republican assault on social justice and racial equality."