Bumped – because it was torpedoed earlier by the Jeff Sessions breaking news.
Above, Howard Dean with old friend Phil Murphy last year at a Newark fundraiser. Photo: Mark Bonamo
Here’s Gov. Phil Murphy in a press conference a short while ago in Newark, crowing about local wins by Democrats, including some of the firsts of the groundbreaking elections, plus Democratic gains in crimson places where that’s a heavier lift he’s proud of. He clearly wants the Democratic Party to be all it can be here. I’m for that. And if we’re talking about a better party, let’s really talk.
I first met Murphy in 2006, at Linda Stender’s campaign kick-off in CD7, the seat Tom Malinowski won last night. Campaign HQ in Scotch Plains was crammed for a mass canvass about to roll. Stender came over, pointed to a tall WASP – an open-faced-sandwich of a man – and asked me to introduce myself. “You’re probably the only person here who knows who he is – that’s Phil Murphy.” Murphy was Howard Dean’s Finance Chair at DNC then – the guy who got 50-State Strategy funded; the fight-for-every-vote-everywhere system brought us wins even in Hunterdon. I still have Phil Murphy’s DNC card. When he called me in for a chat long before declaring for Gov, Dean happened to call, a nice full loop.
Today, Murphy talked of wins “even in places where not very long ago no one would have thought it would be possible.” (4:48 in the video). He means not only easy blue races, but places where Dems need resources to win. This year, the Party invested in municipal races; maybe for the first time. Among those races Murphy shouts out, the Dem clean-sweep in Hunterdon’s county seat of Flemington, where I live. Murphy revisits Dean’s kind of party organizing again (17:30) – a “huge emphasis on the non-glamorous, non-headline stuff. Infrastructure.” YES. YES.
I’m encouraged by any talk of any Dean-style beefing up of infrastructure; that’s a bonus of this governor as head of his party. But funding alone won’t do it. We have a party that lacks representational, transparent decision-making at the state level. Unaffiliateds outnumber both Ds & Rs in NJ. The majority of voters in this state may vote blue or red, but they don’t want to be part of either party. And if we’re asked what our Party stands for, we can talk only in generalizations, or about our own ideals. This party has no convention, or platform; we have not set down what we stand for. And how can we require better policies from our elected Democrats if we haven’t even told them what we expect of them? If Phil Murphy is serious about a better stronger party – and I think he is – I hope he invests himself in a party whose direction is set by all of us.