Phil Murphy for Governor of New Jersey|The New York Times

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

THE NEW YORK TIMES

OCT. 29, 2017

Phil Murphy at a campaign event in June.

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Who should be the next governor of New Jersey? That’s not even a close call. There is only one choice on the ballot next week who guarantees voters an end to the Chris Christie era, and that’s the Democratic candidate, Phil Murphy.

Mr. Murphy, who was ambassador to Germany during the Obama years, is running against Mr. Christie’s loyal lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, whose agenda differs little from that of her boss. New Jersey can’t afford another four years of Christie-inspired chaos.

Indeed, Mr. Murphy would be taking on a formidable task. Eight years ago, Mr. Christie arrived promising to fix “our broken state,” as he called it. Instead, he is leaving it even more damaged than he found it.

Mr. Christie leaves behind an economy still struggling to recover a decade after the Great Recession. New Jersey’s employment growth lags well behind the rate for the country. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded 11 times in the Christie era, primarily because of the underfunded pension system. Schools, likewise, aren’t fully funded. And traffic and public transit are a daily trial, thanks in part to Mr. Christie’s shortsighted cancellation of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson. (A recent report estimated that the average driver in the state spends an unnecessary $600 a year on lost time, car repairs and wasted fuel.)

Mr. Murphy, who spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs before he became the financial chairman of the Democratic Party, has said he would use some of that expertise to start restoring the pension system and improving its investments. He promises that the New Jersey Transit system that he says Mr. Christie has “wrecked” will be one of his priorities. He also wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and create a public bank using state revenues to offer low-interest loans to residents. A wealthy man himself, he has pledged to adjust the tax codes to make his peer group and big corporations pay enough taxes to help fill some of the gaps left by the Christie administration. He would, for example, restore money to Planned Parenthood and make certain the state rejoins a crucial regional greenhouse gas pact intended to help combat climate change. He has said he would back sensible gun reforms such as better background checks and smarter technology to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Mr. Murphy also pledges more support for public schools, which he accuses Mr. Christie of underfunding by $9 billion. And he has vowed to provide a check on President Trump, especially when it comes to the treatment of undocumented immigrants. In an obvious sign of desperation, Ms. Guadagno’s campaign has met this pledge with a bitterly negative, fearmongering ad that accuses Mr. Murphy of welcoming in immigrants like one who murdered three people a decade ago.

Ms. Guadagno’s real problem, however, is that, as lieutenant governor, she served as Governor Christie’s shadow. She insists that she disagreed with Mr. Christie on occasion but fails to offer any real examples when pressed, except that she was not in favor of the governor’s decision to raise the state gas tax. That was actually one of the few things Mr. Christie got right. New Jersey had among the lowest gas taxes in the nation, and those funds were desperately needed to fix dilapidated roads and New Jersey Transit.

Mr. Murphy’s campaign raises a few questions, of course. Like former Gov. Jon Corzine, who also had Wall Street roots, Mr. Murphy has little political experience in the state. It is hard to see how new taxes or other revenue sources would pay for his high-end promises. Still, he is not Christie-lite.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Murphy likes to say that he sees New Jersey as America’s best opportunity for a turnaround. We agree and recommend Phil Murphy for governor.

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