Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey, Nancy Solomon discussed on All Things Considered
C. I'm Rebecca Rivera. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy gave the final state of the state address of his first term today. And like all things during the pandemic, this one was different. Unlike previous years where the speeches delivered before the state Legislature, this one was pre recorded and streamed online. And it was delivered during an election year. W M I. C is Nancy Solomon takes a look at where the governor stands as his campaign for a second term gets under way. The last time a Democratic governor ran for re election in New Jersey. Well, let's just say it didn't go too well. Human nights ago, I called Mr Christie and congratulated him on becoming New Jersey's next governor. It was 2009. The country was in a devastating recession, and Jon Corzine had spent much of his first term fighting with Democrats in the Legislature. That sounds a lot like Murphy but might do him of Mercury Public affairs, a Republican strategist behind Christie's too successful campaigns says there's one obvious difference, I think Pandemic really defined him and gave him a chance to show leadership skills in a way that people hadn't seen prior to that to him, says the pandemic is the defining issue of Governor Phil Murphy's first term. And it considerably raised his public profile. Some 60% of New Jersey voters approve of the governor's job performance. Patrick Murray of the Monmouth University Polling Institute says If that holds, he's easily reelected if his job approval rating starts to dip below 50% Then voters will need to take a look at what the alternative is. And if the alternative ends up being too far to the right, the probably stick with Phil Murphy Murphy has been called the most progressive governor in America. Anywheres. That title is a badge of honor. But lately he's made some moves to shore up the political center, Moderate Democrats, independents and the business community. And that has angered progressive leaders like Patricia Campus. Medina. There's a group of insiders, I will say mostly men, and why males that are telling him that the way to win re election is toe move to the middle. We begin to cut deals with the machines and the county pulses as examples. Campus, Medina says Murphy allowed Democratic power brokers to take control of redrawing the Legislative district's any compromised on a bloated tax break. Bill. Environmentalists and South Jersey progressives are upset that Murphy Green lit a terminal to be built on the Delaware River. It would store Fracked Gas from Pennsylvania. Kate Delaney is president of South Jersey Progressive Democrats and has been battling the powerful George Norcross machine. She's unhappy with the governor. Not enough to pull support in order to make change in South Jersey. It really has to be, you know, a bottom up change. It really has to be in the grass roots. Even though Delaney wishes Murphy would reject the endorsement process of the county machines that gives candidates preferential treatment on the ballot. She doesn't expect him to do that. So I think that you know there's a lot of great things that the governor has done. But for South Jersey, we still need some more support. Murphy still does have support for the core of his agenda. He raised the minimum wage passed a millionaire's tax and is expected to legalize marijuana. The Reverend Charles Boyer of Salvation and Social Justice points out that Murphy was elected with 94% support from black voters. Boyer says the governor listen to his demands to ensure marijuana legalization includes reparations for black communities. And to release prisoners at risk of getting Cove it. These are all things that definitely are not popular with white voters but were necessary from a justice standpoint, Boyer hopes the governor won't do what many a Democrat has done before and take the black vote for granted. Even if Murphy doesn't he faces a different peril. Come November. Mike do Heym, The Republican strategist, says the governor's performance during the pandemic will only go so far. It's not about what people think right now is. What are people gonna be thinking in September, October November about the state of the economy, and it's the unemployment is very high. You know, that will be a problem for Governor Murphy. If it's steadily coming down, that would be another plus for Governor Murphy. New Jersey's current unemployment rate is hovering at 10%. About the same as it was when Jon Corzine was running for re election. Nancy Solomon W N. Y C news As we just mentioned Governor Murphy delivered his state of the state speech earlier today in a taped speech streamed online and here to fill us in on the details is W and my CI's Nancy Solomon, Nancy. Hello. Rebecca. Long time. No. See Nancy, We just heard you talk about the governor's reelection chances. So how did his speech today square with that? Have a little whiplash. To be honest. After Murphy spent the last several months making peace with moderates. This was not the speech I was expecting. I mean, I was expecting a campaign kickoff speech. Yes, but I was surprised with how much the governor doubled down on progressive policies. I put together a little montage, raising the minimum wage, black lives matter. Passing, earned sick leave and expanding paid family and medical jersey wind, poor environmental justice for combating senseless gun violence, the millionaire's tax and dignity. Of our LGBT Q plus community and for welcoming our immigrant communities. That almost sounds like just a checklist of standard progressive priorities, And that's not even the half of it or even a quarter. I counted 27 different policies on Def There was any doubt that this was Maura campaign speech than a state of the state. All of them were things Murphy has already entirely or partially accomplished. But that could be said of any state of the state. Right. Don't governors always run down their list of accomplishments? Sure, but they also layout policy priorities. They want the Legislature to take up in the new year, so as a comparison I counted four policies that Murphy called on the Legislature to get done this year, and none of them are necessarily knew. Also, the governor said, the phrase moving forward eight different times, which is kind of interesting since forward was President Obama's slogan for reelection in 2012. Murphy, of course, was President Obama's ambassador to Germany of though It's also worth noting he actually governed to the left of his old boss. You mentioned the initiative's Murphy wants to get done this year. What are they He wants to finish legalizing marijuana, of course, And he said last week's collapse of the deal with the Legislature on the legalization effort is just a blip in what's become a yearlong process. You're years long process he wants to complete an ethics reform package that he has already proposed. Another stalled issue is the elimination of mandatory minimum sentencing on Bob Obl E. The newest of his proposals is early voting. He wants to move to a system more like New York, where people can vote both by mail and in person in the weeks leading up to election day. Nancy, what's been the response to a speech so far. Well, you know, the one response that interested me the most came from New Jersey policy perspective. It's a progressive think tank that has mostly supported Murphy's agenda. But after the governor agreed to a $14 billion corporate tax break program last month, it's President Brandon McCoy, who is usually very and even keeled guy. He was furious. McCoy felt the governor betrayed his progressive base after Murphy had made his opposition to corporate tax breaks a big time. Priority during his first years in office. But today, McCoy praised the governor, especially because Murphy signaled quite clearly that his covert recovery plan would rest not on austerity economics, McCoy says investing in public schools the social safety net, then health care is the only way for New Jersey's economy. To recover from the pandemic. W M I C s Nancy Solomon. Thanks so much. Thanks, Rebecca..