By David Madden

by KYW’s David Madden

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (CBS) — The race to succeed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now on in earnest, and there’s one problem confronting all the announced candidates.

Not a one of them is all that well known statewide.

You need only look at a Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted last November. Granted, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno was not an official candidate then.

She threw her hat in the ring this past week. But 55% of New Jerseyans surveyed had no idea who she was.

Poll director Ashley Koning notes she’s the best known of 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats who have filed to run.

“The Lieutenant Governor has hovered around these same numbers for really the length of the past two terms,” Koning told KYW Newsradio. “She’s never been able to come out of Governor Christie’s shadow.”

And despite spending millions of dollars, 64% don’t know former Ambassador Phil Murphy, a North Jersey businessman and former US Ambassador to Germany in the Obama Administration.

Three state legislators are in the race. State Senator Ray Lesniak was not included in the survey. Fellow Democrat John Wisniewski, who had a high-profile spot during legislative hearings into the Bridgegate scandal, is unknown to 67% of voters. And Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli could not be named by 80% of participants.

The numbers suggest to Koning that the race, at this early juncture, is still a toss-up.

“It’s an uphill battle for any one of these gubernatorial candidates, which could be a good and a bad thing,” she said. “This really means, even with the front-runners that have already been out there presumed or actively campaigning, it can really be anybody’s game.”

There is one name you’ll probably recognize. Comedian Joe Piscopo.

But he wasn’t in the survey and he’s not yet in the running. He currently hosts a radio talk show in New York.

Also not surveyed were Republicans Steve Rogers, a Nutley Township Commissioner, and actor Joseph Rullo.

One Democrat was not included, former federal Treasury undersecretary Jim Johnson, along with independent Jeff Boss.

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