The Murphy Option

In three separate conversations in the last several days, political insiders continue to speculate on the strong hand possessed by jockeying gubernatorial hopeful Phillip Murphy.

Two sources – one from Central and the other from North Jersey – told PolitickerNJ that Murphy’s personal fortune – he’s a Goldman Sachs alum and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany – makes him more likely than either Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) or Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop to break out of the pack and slake the thirst of party bosses for campaign cash.

Don’t discount a run too by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), whom a Central Jersey source described as absolutely pawing at the turf to succeed Gov. Chris Christie.

But back to Murphy.

Sweeney and powerful South Jersey Democratic Party kingpin George Norcross III might have played two-hand touch football as kids, but if the senate president can’t muster line support up north and Fulop appears poised to take up the slack, South Jersey could be enticed by a Murphy candidacy.

“You have a gubernatorial who can self-fund, then you can spend money on your legislative races, it makes sense,” a source told PolitickerNJ, referring to the Monmouth County-based Murphy.

But what to do with Sweeney?

A North Jersey source said the senate prez could get full support to become the next congressman from the 2nd District, to take over from a retiring U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2).

For years, state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1) appeared ready to step in as LoBo’s replacement, but if Sweeney cannot summon North Jersey support, his muscled-up South Jersey presence could crowd out Van Drew for the congressional consolation prize, the source said.

The Murphy Option