One of the stars of Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign website is Katie Brennan, a one-time Phil Murphy campaign aide who accused a colleague of rape.
Ciattarelli uses a video clip of Brennan testifying before a Legislative Committee about the alleged assault. The point is clear: Murphy did nothing to stop a “frat-boy” culture in his 2017 campaign.
So, what does the governor think about Ciattarelli’s tactics?
Responding to that very question at his briefing today, Murphy said he’d rather not get into the politics of a governor’s race that is now only two months away.
But he did elaborate a bit.
“Katie’s experience is one that impacted all of us deeply,” Murphy said, adding a bit later, “Those are lessons that will stay with us.”
In the aftermath of the Brennan episode and additional evidence of sexual harassment in state politics, legislation has been proposed to oversee how women are treated in state government and in campaigns.
Murphy, like many governors. doesn’t usually comment on pending legislation, but he said that he supports the concept of these bills.
“We want to be …. if an awful thing befalls you as a survivor, as it did Katie and others out there, we want to be the role model American state of being there for you,” the governor said.
The question about Brennan was not the only time politics crept into the governor’s COVID briefing.
Murphy was also asked to comment on the odyssey of Vince Polistina who is – or isn’t – the new state senator from LD-2 in south Jersey.
Polistina won the seat to replace Chris Brown, who joined the Murphy administration, but things are not that simple.
The state Senate is not in session, so Polistina has not been sworn-in. This puts him in a sort of limbo.
Murphy said figuring out that mess was “above his pay grade.”
That was a curious phrase to use considering that Murphy has received political criticism for saying that same thing – above his pay grade – when asked in a TV interview last year how his pandemic restrictions meshed with the U.S. Constitution.
Back on less political terrain, Murphy said $267 million is available to help school districts implement COVID testing.
This goes along with the mask mandate, a point of great controversy in some quarters, and such things as washing hands, social distancing and of course vaccinations.
With all that, the governor said it’s unlikely schools will return to remote learning, which was the case most of last school year.
Murphy said that would only happen if there was a “dramatic outbreak of some sort.”