As New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy approaches his reelection rendezvous with destiny in November, it is clearer than ever that he has followed a course independent of other governors, both personally and ideologically. And it is evident that this independence is yielding political dividends to him.
The personal independence was evident in his issuing yesterday a joint statement with Pennsylvania
Governor Tom Wolf, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee calling for the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Murphy had cooperated in the past with Cuomo in matters involving regional joint interests. Yet he always maintained a safe personal distance from the New York Governor, which allowed him to act freely in sensitive personal matters, such as the current sexual harassment scandal.
In policy making, Phil Murphy also followed his own unique and independent course, described as “pragmatic progressivism.” This course not only was successful in New Jersey. It also served as a paradigm for other government officials and political candidates outside the Garden State to follow. And that was evident in the results from yesterday’s Democratic primary in Ohio.
A month ago, on the occasion of the victory of Eric Adams in the New York City Democratic Mayoral Primary, I authored a column, “Pragmatic Progressivism: The Common Message and Philosophy of Phil Murphy and Eric Adams.” https://www.insidernj.com/pragmatic-progressivism-common-message-philosophy-murphy-eric-adams/
In that column, I described the national impact of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy as the avatar of Pragmatic Progressivism, the alternative to Socialist Progressivism. The latter is an extremist movement whose leader is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) (AOC), supported by her fellow “Squad” members, House of Representatives members Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan).
“Hate Israel” is an essential component of Socialist Progressivism. While Phil Murphy and Eric Adams are strong supporters of Israel and believe deeply in the capitalist, free enterprise system, only wishing to implement reforms that will make the system more equitable for all, AOC and her fellow Squad members want to destroy the capitalist system and replace it with a socialist regime.
Accordingly, it was hardly surprising to see Hillary Clinton, South Carolina Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, and members of the various pro-Israel organizations supporting Pragmatic Progressive African-American Shontel Brown in the Ohio 11th District Democratic Congressional Primary against Socialist Progressive African-American Nina Turner. And true to form, Nina Turner was endorsed by AOC and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont).
And the victory yesterday of Shontel Brown over Turner was a landmark advance for the cause of both the Jewish/African-American alliance and the Pragmatic Progressivism of Phil Murphy.
The Brown victory is already generating major notice in the Israeli media: the headline in the Jerusalem Post today reads, “Pro-Israel Democrat Shontel Brown defeats rival Turner in Ohio primary.” https://m.jpost.com/american-politics/pro-israel-democrat-shontel-brown-defeats-rival-turner-in-ohio-primary-675787/amp
And needless to say, the outcome was a major setback for AOC. It further exposes the fact that her movement is very much one of limited support within the Democratic Party.
The irony is that the national rise of Phi Murphy as the avatar of the Pragmatic Progressive movement is going virtually unnoticed within the world of New Jersey media. But it won’t remain below the radar screen in the Garden State much longer.
If the governor wins the landslide reelection victory I anticipate on Election Day 2021, you will see a flood of stories in the New Jersey media about the likelihood of Phil Murphy emerging as a presidential candidate in 2024 if Joe Biden does not seek reelection.
And it will become evident quickly that Phil Murphy has a far more realistic chance of being elected president than Chris Christie ever had.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.