Give Phil Murphy a chance

Apparently it’s not too early to discuss gubernatorial prospects. We already know a lot about Senate President Steve Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. Other legislators who might throw their hat in the ring are probably less well known but have a NJ record on which to hang that hat.

How about Democrat Philip Murphy? Personally I don’t yet have any idea as to whether I will support him, but I am more than willing to listen. He has been laying the groundwork to run and has the money to self-finance, so de facto he is in play and subject to scrutiny.

We should not just write him off as another rich man, a carpet-bagger, too like former governor Corzine, or someone who has never held elected office. It might be refreshing to have a governor who appears genuinely concerned about the middle class and has no need to obtain money from political bosses, corporations, and wealthy donors. Murphy does have experience in business (a former Goldman Sachs director), diplomacy (Ambassador to Germany), philanthropy (several New Jersey non-profits), civic engagement (on the board of the NAACP’s Special Contribution Fund) and national politics (former finance Chair for the Democratic National Committee.) In addition he chaired the New Jersey Benefits Task Force in 2005 and co-chaired Renewing our Schools, Securing our Future.

A former Blue Jersey diarist dismissed Murphy as just another “richy-rich” man. However, let’s not forget that since 1981 there have been only two non-millionaire governors elected in NJ – Jim Florio and Jim McGreevey. In 2009 the race was between the very wealthy Jon Corzine and Chris Christie whose net worth at the time was estimated at $3.8 million. A 2015 estimate of Chris Christie’s net worth is $5 million – not enough to self-finance a gubernatorial race but more than enough to enjoy a standard of living well above the middle class, and one further enhanced by perks and gifts.

One question to be asked about candidates is not how wealthy they are, but are they genuinely committed to strengthening the middle class and helping those less fortunate. In January this year Murphy teamed with the Center for American Progress to present A Policy Agenda for Strengthening New Jersey’s Middle Class, with recommendations from earned sick leave to improvements to the minimum wage.

By May of last year he had hired political consultants and was making the rounds with influential Democrats saying, “We’ve not made a decision, but we’re very serious.” In August he went to Israel where he met with former President Shimon Peres. In September the Auditor reported during that quarter he had given five-figure checks to several county parties. By November the press called him a “presumed gubernatorial candidate” when he held a forum to launch his non-profit advocacy group New Start New Jersey as a platform to get out his message. Its website currently has a focus on rebuilding our middle class. The forum was attended by such luminaries as Jon Bon Jovi and former Govs. Tom Kean and Brendan Byrne. His stable of political consultants now includes Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky, and message men Brad Lawrence and Steve DeMico. Most recently he added Essex County freeholder Brendan Gill who has worked for Senators Booker and Lautenberg.

About Jon Corzine, he says, “I’ve known him for 30 years. He’s a friend. But I’m not Jon.”

There is still much more to learn about him. However, let’s give love, peace and Phil Murphy a chance.  

Comments (15)

  1. 12mileseastofTrenton
  2. johnsmith

    Despite his claims to the contrary, it’s kind of hard to say you empathize with the pains of the middle class when you live in a 10,000 sqft mansion. I think he deserves a shot like everyone else, but his non-profit is mostly fluff and I don’t like the “i can buy my way into the party” attitude. Also, I had to laugh at the poll he commissioned. Is was a very expensive way of saying the sky is blue, and it was quickly glossed over by Patrick Murray of Monmouth’s polling group for not being worth the paper it was written on.

  3. marshwren

    The New Deal succeeded because it addressed the economic needs of the working class (unionization) and the poor (safety net programs); and endured as long as the Party continued care for those ends of the Party’s base.  Which ended the moment the DLC/Blue Dog “Democrats” (Clinton, Gore) moved the Party to the suburbs–and to the right–by rebranding itself as the saviors of the “middle class” at the expense of the working class and the poor.

    And make no mistake that abandoning these once-core constituencies is the one and only reason Democrats are no longer competitive at the Congressional, or even the state, levels any more:  by offering nothing of economic value to them, they either stopped voting, or fell prey to the GOP’s culture wars rhetoric (god, guns, gays, fetuses and flag, with unhealthy doses of outright racism).

    And until the DP reclaims and reinvigorates its New Deal roots, rebooting it for the 21st C. if you will, they will keep losing elections no matter how demented or plutocratic or fascistic the GOP becomes.  Watching Murphy shed crocodile tears for the middle class–without a single word for the working class or the poor–continues the DP’s ever-accelerating slide into political irrelevance.

    I don’t give the proverbial dead rat’s ass if he’s a billionaire or a pauper; it’s not what he represents, but who he represents, that matters, just as it’s not who he stands up to, but who he stands up for, that matters.  Which is why i’ll be voting Green, even if i have to run myself just to have a candidate to vote for.


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