NEWARK – Jack Ciattarelli likes to channel Ronald Reagan (circa 1980) and ask people if they’re better off today than they were four years ago.
Phil Murphy can play that game too.
Accepting the endorsement today of the state’s Latino Action Network, Murphy asked the crowd before him in a small lot off Broadway to think back to 2017.
Things back then were not all that good for Latinos, Murphy said, reminding the crowd that Republicans ran a “Trump” type of campaign that pitted Latinos against others in the state.
He said that changed when he was elected.
Murphy ticked off initiatives that he said directly or indirectly benefited the state’s Latino population.
They included in-state college tuition and driver’s licenses for the undocumented, a higher minimum wage and criminal justice reform.
“It’s different, it’s better,” the governor said of how the state treats Latinos. But there’s still room for improvement.
And that brings us back to Ciattarelli.
Murphy asserted that his rhetoric is the same “demonization” of Latinos that we’ve heard from Trump.
The governor made no specific charge, but a few weeks ago, Diane Allen, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said some migrants crossing the border from Mexico were bringing Covid to New Jersey.
In urging a big turnout, Murphy said the state can not endorse that type of divisive thinking.
The Hispanic vote, generally speaking, leans Democratic. But nothing in politics is a sure thing.
Luis Quintana, the president of the Newark City Council, said he wants Latinos to show their “muscle.” By voting, that is.
Asked afterwards if he thought residents in Newark, a Democratic stronghold, were interested in the election, Quintana said yes. He added that many residents understand that Murphy has been there for them.
Previously, he praised the governor for helping the city cope with the pandemic.
Murphy, like all politicians on the stump, is prone to grandiose pronouncements.
And the governor was true to form, wrapping up the event by saying he wants to take the state “to a place it’s never been before.”