NEW BRUNSWICK – Former Ambassador Phil Murphy founded New Start New Jersey—a program aimed at boosting N.J.’s middle class—in 2014. Now, the probable 2017 gubernatorial candidate has taken that initiative a step further with the New Start Career Network, an organization aimed at helping the long-term unemployed over 45 years of age find jobs.
According to Murphy, his desire to start the initiative stems from a desire to “get the trajectory of the economy in the state—particularly the middle class economy—back in the right direction” and not his gubernatorial ambitions.
“It feels like it is a point of great leverage so it is obviously, first and foremost, for the individuals who are being impacted by this and their families,” Murphy told PolitickerNJ after a launch event at Rutgers New Brunswick. “Because it is a long term challenge, it is almost an anchor on the economy. If you are looking for pressure points—where to invest your time and capital and resources to have the biggest impact—this felt like one of those areas.”
On Monday, Senate President Sweeney and leading Senate Democrats launched a plan to boost economic growth in the state called New Jersey: Investing in You. Like Murphy, Sweeney is rumored to be vying for the 2017 Democratic nomination for governor. Though the two are likely to be at odds in 2017, for Murphy, the senate initiative is a welcome one.
“I think we should all be investing in New Jersey so I am all in for that,” Murphy said. “Our initiative here has been in the works for the better part of a year. A happy day in this state should be when everybody agrees and there is a movement and a groundswell for a set of policies that puts the people and the middle class first. I welcome any allies in the fight.”
The New Brunswick event was the official launch of the New Start Career Network. It included remarks by officials from the U.S. department of labor and a panel including Melanie Willoughby of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, Doug Johnson of AARP-NJ, Durelle McPherson of United Way of New Jersey and Murphy, among others. The event was also aimed at helping the organization find volunteers to coach the unemployed and help those older than 45 years find jobs and gain access to employment resources.
Though Murphy claims that the new initiative has nothing to do with a future gubernatorial run, actions like these will help introduce him to New Jersey voters who may be less familiar with him than other possible candidates like Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. New Start New Jersey commercials bring Murphy’s family history into the public eye with him stating that his family was “middle class on a good day.” When asked about that by Politicker, Murphy said that his family was “one paycheck away.”
“There are people with jobs who are one paycheck or one event away from falling out of the middle class and falling into a spiral,” Murphy said. “I think that was the sort of family I grew up in. Thankfully we made it.”