Phil Murphy proclaimed Thursday the settlement of a “decades-old debate once and for all.”
Kind of grabs your attention, no?
The now-settled debate has to do with “Central Jersey.”
Or as the governor said in a release:
“Central Jersey exists!”
This “debate” for some is similar to another simmering New Jersey dispute over whether one eats pork roll or Taylor ham.
But the geographic one is now over – at least officially.
The governor on Thursday journeyed to Somerville in – where else? – Central Jersey to sign a bill promoting “Central Jersey tourism.” More specifically, the bill says state tourism maps will now identify a Central Jersey region.
Promoting tourism is what governors do. That makes sense.
Still, it’s really hard for average people to truly accept that they live in Central Jersey.
First of all, New Jersey is not so large that it requires all that many geographic sections.
In other words, this isn’t a case of debating where East Texas begins and ends.
Traditionally, New Jersey had been rather neatly split between north and south.
For many, many years, North Jersey had a 201 area code and South Jersey a 609 area code.
There also is a pronounced division among sports fans, of which there are many in New Jersey.
North Jersey, generally speaking, roots for New York teams (that includes in this case the Giants or the Jets) and South Jersey roots for Philadelphia teams.
New Jersey’s location between New York and Philly, of course, has generated some humor – going all the way back to Ben Franklin, who reportedly referred to the state as a “keg tapped at both ends.”
The notion of “Central Jersey” as its own place is of recent vintage.
So, where precisely is it?
On Thursday, the governor and his cohorts identified the region as encompassing at least four counties – Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset. That suggests other counties may wish to join the new group. What do they do? Put together a petition?
All this is harmless fun, but you do have to wonder why officials are making such a big deal out of it. Is legislation really needed?
The release trumpeting Thursday’s event included hip, hip, hooray comments from not only Murphy, but also the Secretary of State and six legislators.
A typical observation came from state Sen. Andrew Zwicker who said:
“… Central Jersey is finally on the map.”
The question is, how many of those who live or visit the new region are going to care – or even know – about that?