Bellying up to the Bar in Murphy’s

Peter Murphy has been described as an old school political boss. He also runs a bar on Union Boulevard in Totowa. On election day, things tend to intersect.

So it was this afternoon at Murph’s Tavern where patrons enjoying beverages were joined with a spirited get-out-the-vote operation to benefit Antony Ghee’s congressional campaign in the 11th District.

Voting lists were spread out on tables and volunteers directed canvassers and phoned people reminding them to vote.

“Have you voted yet?” Murphy said to a young man just walking in.

He said yes.

“Then, go have a beer,” instructed Murphy, who is in line to become Passaic County Republican Chairman later this month. He held that job previously, but lost it after pleading guilty to mail fraud. Such transgressions in New Jersey don’t necessarily end political careers, they just derail them a bit.

But today, everyone cared about the future, not the past.

“We’re cranking,” Murphy said of the effort being orchestrated by those in the bar and put in motion by those on the streets.

One group of volunteers – Young Republicans – relaxed briefly at an outdoor table. They said they had knocked on thousands of doors in Wayne, one of the largest towns in the district.

All this was going on while election officials in Morris County were talking about a low turnout.

“That’s not acceptable in Totowa,” said state Sen. Kristin Corrado, Dist. 40., one of those working to get out the vote for Ghee.

“I believe the low turnout in Morris will help Tony,” she said.

That’s not a debatable point.

Ghee has organizational support in Passaic and Essex counties, which makeup about 40 percent of the district.

Assemblyman Jay Webber of Morris Plains figures to be strong in his home county, but then there’s Peter DeNeufville. A Mendham businessman, DeNeufville has spent heavily on TV advertising. Clearly, if he dilutes Webber’s strength in Morris, Ghee may have a path to victory.

Murphy said he wanted Ghee to win Passaic by at least 4,000 votes.

There are unknowns here. Turnout may be high in Totowa, which is Ghee’s hometown. But will that translate into Little Falls, Woodland Park and other towns in Passaic, not to mention Essex County?

Those at Murphy’s gin mill were not betting against the boss.

“Peter Murphy is the hardest-working person in politics,” said one admirer.

One of those enjoying a drink was Plaxico Burress, who Ghee introduced as one of his good friends. Burress, a former NFL wide receiver who played for both the Giants and the Jets, said he’s lived in Totowa since 2005.

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