Former Ambassador Phil Murphy has officially entered the 2017 gubernatorial race.
When asked why he decided to announce his candidacy a year and a half ahead of the November 2017 election, Murphy said that transparency was key in the decision making process.
“I am a big believer in transparency and not telling people you are doing one thing when in fact you are doing another. As we had our kitchen table conversations with my wife Tammy and our four kids, we are no longer talking about ‘if’ or ‘whether’ it has become a question of ‘when’ so we figured why hold back on that,” Murphy told PolitickerNJ in a phone interview. “We are going to let people know clear as a bell that we are doing this. I don’t want people to think we are playing a game of smoke and mirrors.”
Murphy said that his campaign will focus on the following areas: strengthening and growing the middle class, equal pay for equal work, higher minimum wage, making college more affordable, protecting women’s healthcare and gun control. He also said that New Jersey needs leadership from an individual who understands how to create a strong economy. Murphy is a former executive of megabank Goldman Sachs.
“New Jersey needs leadership that understands how economies grow. That is number one in this state, particularly through the lens of the middle class,” Murphy said. “Number two, leadership that makes decisions based on what is best for the next generation, our kids, and not what is best for the next election.”
For months, speculation has been mounting about Murphy’s entrance into the race. The former ambassador has long been crisscrossing the state and making appearances at networking events, Democratic Party fundraisers and hosting a slew of town hall events. According to Murphy, now that his campaign is official, an aggressive slate of town hall events is on the horizon.
“We are going to be very aggressive getting out there, particularly using the town hall vehicle,” Murphy said. “We are hoping to do two or three events a month.”
Murphy is the first Democrat to officially enter the gubernatorial race though the likes of Senate President Steve Sweeney, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Senator Ray Lesniak and Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo have also made exploratory moves toward the Democratic nomination.
Murphy’s early entrance into the gubernatorial field will give him time to build name recognition as a candidate in a state where he has never held office. In the Democratic primary, Murphy will likely face off against lawmakers impacting New Jersey in their current roles (like Fulop using his office to push the $15 minimum wage). So far this year, Sweeney and Fulop have been on the opposite ends of various battles on topics like northern NJ casino gaming and the Atlantic City while Murphy has used his PAC, New Way for New Jersey, as a vehicle for his ideas.
“The crowded field, I don’t even think about that,” Murphy said. “I think about ourselves and what New Jersey needs and if my skills and instincts and leadership style match up with the state. The answer we have concluded is ‘Absolutely yes.’”
On Monday, Murphy released a video on Youtube announcing his candidacy. Watch here: