PARSIPPANY – Phil Murphy frames his reelection campaign as a choice between “moving forward” or sliding back into the abyss of extremism.
On this overcast and chilly afternoon, that “extremism” was only about 50 feet away.
As the governor hosted a small rally in a pavilion at Veterans Memorial Park, he was confronted by about a dozen loud protesters standing just outside.
They invariably chanted “Unmask Our Kids” and “Murphy sucks.” The occasional F-word was also heard.
Protesters at Murphy campaign events have been rare this election season, but this one was too loud to be ignored. It didn’t help that the crowd of supporters was small – less than a hundred.
Chip Robinson, the chair of the Morris County Democratic Committee, picked up the Murphy campaign theme when he said voters must support the governor’s agenda as opposed to the right wing program being presented by Jack Ciattarelli.
“You can see the craziness going on right now,” Robinson said about the demonstrators.
Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano, who also is seeking re-election, said Democrats should respect differences of opinion. But he faulted the chanting and yelling protestors for not respecting the rights of others to speak.
The governor joked that he had some discontented family members outside, before giving his normal campaign speech.
Everyone in the pavilion agreed with what Murphy had to say. The point, of course, was for them to get their semi-interested friends and family members out to vote.
Murphy likes to say that the math is simple. Dems outnumber Republicans by more than a million in New Jersey, so just a reasonable turnout likely would secure Murphy another term.
A poll last week showed the governor leading by only 6 points, an uncomfortably small margin in a “blue” state.
Three polls this week, however, have shown Murphy leading by 11, 9 and 9 points respectively.
It’s clear the governor doesn’t want to take chances. His campaign has seven get-out-the-vote rallies set for this weekend all over the state.
At today’s event. Murphy made note of his surroundings and said a “Governor Ciattarelli” would be worse for New Jersey than Morris County resident Chris Christie was.
Then it was time to lead the crowd in a chant of “Four More Years, Four More Years.”
Yes, it did drown out the protesters – at least for a while.