GOP bashing Murphy for early prison vaccines

By David WildsteinDecember 31 2020 

New Jersey Globe

Former New Jersey Republican State Chairman Michael Lavery. 

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Republicans seem ready to make an issue of a Phil Murphy administration decision to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to some state prison inmates ahead of residents of state-run veterans homes.

“It is unconscionable that Governor Murphy’s administration is vaccinating the convicted criminals in our prisons before the heroes in our state’s veteran home,” said newly-elected GOP State Chairman Michael Lavery.  “From the beginning of this crisis the Governor has failed to protect the veterans homes from Covid, has refused to share details of what, if any, actions he took to minimize spread, and just recently missed a deadline to get our state’s heroes and vulnerable vaccinated promptly.”

Murphy has seen his approval ratings soar as a result of his handling of the pandemic, and Republicans seeking to defeat him in next year’s gubernatorial campaign are widely expected to use the deaths of nearly 7,500 nursing home residents and nearly 200 veterans as wedge issues to bring the governor’s standing to a politically competitive level.

This week, New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars state commander Brian Wiener slammed Murphy for the state’s handling of COVID-19 at veterans homes in Paramus, Menlo Park and Vineland.  Wiener wants a special prosecutor named to handle the investigation.

Murphy defended the decision to vaccinate some inmates.

“We know that our prison population is a very vulnerable community and it’s why I think we’ve done this responsibly and safely, but we have dramatically reduced our prison population for a number of reasons, by the way, and I want to do that more as it relates to non-violent crimes, for instance, with minimum mandatory sentences as an example,” he said on Wednesday.  “But in the midst of the pandemic, one of the important reasons and drivers, assuming we could do it responsibly and safely, was to reduce prison population.”

Lavery didn’t seem persuaded.

“The Governor has failed the people who needed protection the most, and he should pay for this failure with his job next fall,” Lavery said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-01-01 03:29:59 -0800