On Murphy’s Road to Victory, No Stone Left Unturned

By Salvador Rizzo • 06/07/17

Observer

Phil Murphy.

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Behind the millions of dollars, the sterling resume, the upbeat TV ads and the sleek campaign apparatus, what has become apparent over the last three years is that Phil Murphy is one of the shrewdest political tacticians in the state, leveraging every asset he could to take over the New Jersey Democratic Party and become its nominee for governor.

In this regard — setting aside their vast policy differences — Murphy is not unlike the man he hopes to replace. Gov. Chris Christie may be deeply unpopular today, but he once mastered this game, too. He planned his moves far ahead like Murphy. He hired some of the finest political talent. He was a big-league fundraiser with a high tolerance for retail politics. And he became a student of the blood feuds, the bonds and the smoky folklore of New Jersey’s political scene — and moved accordingly.

Murphy, 59, a former Goldman Sachs banker, handily won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday night after months of leading in the polls and spending well in excess of $21 million, not just on his campaign, but on a 527 group and dozens of candidates and party committees operating at nearly every level of New Jersey government. The first donations, a pair of checks totaling $30,000 to then-Assembly Minority Leader Joe Doria’s legislative leadership committee, came in 2001, the year after Murphy and his family moved to Middletown.

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State Board Poised to End Control of Jersey City Schools, Newark May Follow

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Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno Win Primaries in New Jersey Governor’s Race

NEWARK — Philip D. Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, cruised to the Democratic nomination for New Jersey governor on Tuesday while Kim Guadagno, the state’s lieutenant governor, easily turned away a spirited challenge to claim the Republican nomination, setting the stage for a November battle to replace Chris Christie, the deeply unpopular incumbent.

Their matchup, the first open election for the governor’s seat in New Jersey since 2005, promises to be as much a referendum on the administration of Mr. Christie — who will leave a state crippled by debt, credit downgrades and creaky infrastructure — as it will be an early test of the electoral impact of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

“People all across New Jersey are demanding change, and I am here to change things,” Mr. Murphy told a crowd to loud cheers on Tuesday night at his election night party at a hotel in Newark. “Four more years of Chris Christie-style politics won’t make New Jersey the state where we draw the line against Donald Trump. But we will.”

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National Politics Hang Over Tuesday’s New Jersey Primary

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The African-American heritage parade on Saturday here drew to a momentary standstill. Philip D. Murphy, a Democratic candidate for governor, was darting back and forth across the street, responding to endless calls for handshakes, hugs and selfies.

Just in front of him was Jim Johnson, another Democratic candidate, who had barely broken a sweat after jogging nearly the entire route, so he could stop for hugs and handshakes as the parade wound through his hometown.

“People don’t forget when you shake their hands,” Mr. Johnson said, as he stood wearing a Rosa Parks shirt, a singular “Nah” quote stretched across the front. He added, “It was the hugs that slowed us down, it wasn’t the handshakes.”

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Booker: Trump’s Environmental Moves Will Hurt Minorities

By Alyana Alfaro • 06/02/17

Observer

Cory Booker, right, and Albio Sires

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NEWARK — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is fired up about President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, charging that the move will have an outsize impact on communities of color.

“This is not about global warming for them simply, this is not about melting of ice caps to them simply — this is about the health of our children and the economic opportunity for our communities,” Booker said Friday at a news conference where he was joined by Reps. Albio Sires (D-8) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).

A former mayor of Newark, Booker said the city’s children are especially at risk by a rollback of climate regulations and by abandoning the gas emission standards in the Paris agreement. Due to air quality issues, the asthma rate in the Brick City is three times what it is in suburban communities, he said. The city’s population is majority black, with a large number of Hispanics.

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In Reversal, Murphy Agrees to Cap Spending in the General

By Salvador Rizzo • 05/31/17

Observer

Phil  Murphy

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After dropping $20 million on the Democratic primary for governor, Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that if he wins, he would limit his spending in the general election to $13.8 million and apply for public matching funds.

Candidates for governor who participate in New Jersey’s public financing program get $2 in matching funds for every $1 they raise. But as a condition, their spending is capped by law at $13.8 million in the general election.

Murphy, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, declined to take matching funds for the primary and has blown well past the $6.4 million spending cap he would have faced.

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Public Education and the Candidates: Putting the Issues in Perspective

John Mooney | June 2, 2017

NJSpotlight

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli during a Republican gubernatorial primary debate

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Public education has already played a big role in the race to be New Jersey’s next governor — maybe as much as in any gubernatorial election in recent memory.

After nearly eight years of Gov. Chris Christie and his aggressive education agenda, the state is at a significant crossroads in terms of its public schools, and the candidates from both parties have almost universally made it a priority issue.

School funding has led the pack, with educators and advocates saying the continued underfunding of the state’s school-finance law has left districts and their communities in dire straits. Candidates on both sides of the aisle have each come up with their own solutions, although plans on how to fund them tend to be sketchy.

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NJ Gov Race: Johnson Swinging at Murphy Till the End

By Alyana Alfaro • 05/31/17

Observer

Jim Johnson speaks at a town hall event in Newark.

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NEWARK — In the waning days of the Democratic primary race for governor, Jim Johnson once again took aim at the front-runner, former U.S. ambassador Phil Murphy, and what he called a corrupt political system in New Jersey.

It has been the defining campaign theme for Johnson, a former white collar criminal defense lawyer who spent years working as a top U.S. Treasury official during President Bill Clinton’s administration. And polls show he has gotten some traction with his running-against-the-machine message and a smattering of TV ads.

But time is running out. The primary is scheduled for Tuesday. And Murphy remains in the lead, with Johnson a distant second in the most recent public polling.

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Settlements With New Jersey Suburb Clear Way for Proposed Mosque

A proposed mosque that had been blocked by officials in a New Jersey suburb will now be allowed to move forward after settlements were reached on Tuesday in lawsuits that accused the township of discriminating against Muslims.

Officials in the suburb, Bernards Township in Somerset County, voted last week to agree to the settlements, which will require the township to pay a little more than $3 million.

The township will also have to back down on some of its previous requirements — including a request for more than twice the number of parking spaces originally planned — which were cited in the lawsuits as complications created to stymie the mosque’s construction. In addition, township officials will have to participate in diversity and inclusion training.

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Enjoying those Trump Hotel profits, America? | Editorial

Last Jan. 11, in a moment of pointless stagecraft, Donald Trump and his attorney made an elaborate show of how transparent his business empire would be once he occupies the Oval Office, devising a strategy that would help everyone forget the Emoluments Clause.
 
That's the constitutional provision that prohibits a federal official from receiving anything of value (gifts, profits, etc.) from a foreign government without the approval from Congress.
 
"He is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury," attorney Sheri Dillon chirped. "This way, it is the American people who will profit."

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