Murphy’s Curious Morristown Mayoral Endorsement


MORRISTOWN – Governors don’t always endorse candidates in primaries involving their own political party.

There are probably good reasons for that. Why get in the middle of a squabble – in the case of Phil Murphy – among Democrats? After all, Murphy, you would think, wants all Democrats to vote for him this fall.

Nonetheless, the governor has no problems getting involved in some primaries. Early in the primary season, he endorsed state Assemblyman Gordon Johnson over fellow Assembly member Valerie Huttle in the fight to replace Loretta Weinberg in the Senate from LD-37.

And more recently, he endorsed Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty who is seeking reelection to his fourth term.

The governor’s endorsement said Dougherty “has earned a reputation for principled, forward-looking leadership and always puts the residents of Morristown first.”  And it praised the mayor for supporting businesses and delivering results in the midst of a challenging pandemic.

Dougherty’s primary opponent is Esperanza Porras-Field.

Porras-Field’s Facebook post called Murphy’s endorsement “generic and unremarkable at best,” adding that “It affirms the notion that Governor Murphy prefers to support the status quo and a dishonorable incumbent rather than a forward-looking, dynamic Latina civic leader, entrepreneur and business owner.”

The part about Murphy representing the “status quo” and “dishonorable” people sounds like something you would read on a Republican campaign piece, which is precisely why some governors ignore making such endorsements.

More generally, the mayoral primary already is getting a bit chippy.

Dougherty’s camp has to be happy with recent reports that Porras-Field was issued a summons for “stacking” back in 2006. Stacking refers to a landlord maintaining overcrowded apartments.

Porras-Field has an official campaign Facebook page that covers the usual stuff.  A recent posting complains of litter and other debris along the banks of the Whippany River. Pretty tame.

Far more interesting, if not incendiary, is an anonymous social media page called “Morristown Watch,” which presents highly negative material about the mayor.

Where this – and the campaign – will lead is unknown, but by the time June 8 rolls around, some may wonder why Murphy got involved.

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