FAIR LAWN – Phil Murphy worries about the “enthusiasm gap.”
That makes sense.
Voters are always more excited to vote against someone than they are to vote for someone. That “someone” in this case is the governor.
So on a rainy Sunday, Murphy, his wife, Tammy, and some help from across the miles – Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar – popped into a town park this afternoon to rev up a few hundred campaign workers. The workers then planned to fan out across the county to knock on doors and urge a big vote for Murphy and the entire Democratic ticket.
Two years ago, Klobuchar was running for president; today she was in New Jersey campaigning with Murphy, Politics does have some strange twists and turns.
Klobuchar, who met Murphy when he was ambassador to Germany, framed this year’s gubernatorial race in national terms. She talked about being in the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection and of the need not to take democracy for granted.
“How lucky you are to have this governor,” she said, reminding her listeners that Murphy championed a minimum wage hike. It will eventually reach $15 per hour.
Murphy ticked off a list of accomplishments that he hopes will get possibly apathetic Democrats to the polls.
Besides the minimum wage, they included higher taxes on the wealthy, more pre-K education, support for women’s health services and a nearly $7 billion contribution into the state’s pension system.
But a campaign is nothing without passionate rhetoric and the governor was ready.
“The last thing we need is an extreme leader,” he said in a reference to Republican Jack Ciattarelli.
Picking up Klobuchar’s insurrection recollection, Murphy said the choice this year comes down to democracy or “standing with white supremacy and Confederate flags.:”
The Murphy campaign is trying to link Ciattarelli, who did speak at a “Stop the Steal” rally after last year’s election, with the worst of Donald Trump’s right-wing base.
But the governor also presented a much more cheery, optimistic message.
After recounting his achievements over the last four year, Murphy said, “We have turned the page.”
And then, in a rather incongruous nod to Ronald Reagan of all people, the governor said, “It is sunrise in New Jersey.”