Is Phil Murphy running for something?
Months after his surprisingly narrow reelection win, the governor is beginning another campaign through Stronger Fairer Forward, a non-profit organization run by his political allies. This sounds like a “real” campaign.
A statement says ads – there are three of them – “will begin today and run through the end of July … to reach New Jersey residents through investments in TV, digital platforms and out of home platforms, including billboards.” This will cost about $2 million.
The ads are named “Flag,” “Dream” and “Home.”
To be sure, there are some cringeworthy moments here, although it is tough to create something that truly looks natural.
The governor is shown standing in a middle class neighborhood in front of and around modest single-family homes with nice front lawns.
People from various ethnic groups are shown and we also see shots of kids playing basketball, children in a playground and a man walking a dog. It makes you wonder why there is no shot of the Good Humor man dispensing treats to a gaggle of happy youngsters.
Murphy talks about more school aid, property tax relief, “no new taxes” and the rebuilding of the American dream – right here in New Jersey.
As he did in his two gubernatorial campaigns, Murphy talks about his upbringing in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck – just barely.
What is all this supposed to accomplish?
That seems unclear.
There are some disputes between Republicans and Democrats over how to use a whopping budget surplus.
But a new state budget likely will be adopted by the June 30 deadline and these ads are supposed to go through July. So they are not budget related.
Murphy can’t run for governor again, but he, of course, can run for president. Then again, it’s debatable how realistic that really is. Recent history – see Chris Christie, Cory Booker – tells us that New Jerseyans seeking the presidency don’t get far at all, a big build-up locally notwithstanding.
It’s easy for second-term governors to fall from view, so there may be some value in keeping your name and goals before the public.
These ads may do that – and they may cheer some of Murphy’s supporters.
On the other hand, you can expect the governor’s detractors to enjoy making fun of them.