The Stars Are Aligned for Tammy Murphy, County Chairs To Follow

The stars are in alignment in favor of First Lady Tammy Murphy as she ponders entering the 2024 primary contest for the nomination for U. S. Senate.

Should she decide to seek the nomination, it will only be a matter of time before the Democratic county chairs — taking their cue from the celestial bodies in the night sky above New Jersey’s political universe — fall into line as well, virtually assuring her victory.

In the 19 counties in which both parties adhere to the organization line in ballot placement, Democratic chairs and the organizations they lead will be expected to award the county line to the governor’s wife, as close to an ironclad guarantee as possible to emerging as the nominee.

While scandal scarred incumbent Bob Menendez has steadfastly refused to heed calls for his resignation, he’s been circumspect about his intentions to seek another term.

His plans are immaterial, though, as he deals with Federal indictments accusing him of bribery, extortion, influence peddling and acting as an agent to advance the interests of the government of Egypt in return for cash and gifts.

Even in a state with a reputation for politically scandalous behavior, the allegations against  Menendez and his wife Nadine — also indicted — are breathtaking.  From nearly a half million dollars in cash found stuffed in clothing and closets at their home to discovery of gold bars to the gift of a new Mercedes convertible, Federal prosecutors have portrayed the Senator as selling his office and power to private interest agendas.

Within 24 hours, Third District Rep. Andy Kim announced his intention to seek the Senate nomination no matter Menendez’ intentions.

Tammy Murphy, though, quickly emerged as a potential appointee to the Senate should Menendez resign or as a viable candidate in a primary contest.

Politics — no matter where or at what level — is a transactional endeavor.  Favors are granted or withheld, accommodations reached in return for future rewards       and chits — the coin of the political realm — are amassed.

In his six years as governor, Murphy owns a warehouse packed to the rafters with chits and presumably is eager to redeem them to benefit his wife’s Senate candidacy.

The organization line is the prize, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  County chairs need not be reminded of the gubernatorial benevolence conferred on them during the Murphy Administration, not to mention further consideration in the two years remaining in his term.

Tammy Murphy may arguably be the strongest candidate to keep the Senate seat in Democratic hands, but the wishes of the governor — the party leader — for the county chairs to enhance her odds of a successful candidacy will not be overlooked.

Menendez is severely damaged goods with no hope of securing broad party support should he foolishly choose to seek re-election while Kim will struggle to achieve recognition, adequate funding and organizational resources in his quest.

Convincing the party leaders in the more populous and vote rich counties outside his district base to support him is highly problematic.

For the powerbrokers in Hudson, Essex, Bergen, Union, Middlesex, and Passaic counties, for instance, responding to the governor’s wishes is an easy call.

He has been upfront and clear in his support for retaining the county level power to grant the organization line — describing it as a signal of shared values and political philosophy — while Kim has joined with those more progressive elements in the party who have struggled for years to prohibit the practice as unconstitutional and anathema to democratic principles.

Like the ban on self service gasoline, though, the county line is here to stay.

Tammy Murphy has been an active First Lady, involving herself in social issues and — according to many — as a political strategist, adviser and fund raiser for her husband.

She would require no learning curve as a credible Senate candidate.

The only announced Republican candidate at this point is Christine Serrano-Glassner, a business executive and management consultant from Mendham.

She and any other Republican who may enter the race face long odds and a history of futility and defeat.   Democrats have pitched a 52-year shutout in Senate elections and Republicans have been competitive in only three contests in that period — Christie Whitman against Bill Bradley in 1990; former Assembly Speaker Chuck Haytaian against Sen. Frank Lautenberg in 1994, and former Congressman Bob Franks against Jon Corzine in 2000.  All came within three points of winning.

While the popular discontent with President Biden will be a factor next year and potentially impact down ballot races — including U. S. Senate — it’s unlikely New Jersey voters will turn against him in any significant fashion.

Moreover, if former President Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, New Jersey will certainly repeat traditional voting patterns favoring Democrats.

There remains a slim possibility that the Democratic Senate primary field may expand, but for the hard-headed political realists in the party,  Tammy Murphy’s entrance into the race and the potential for her to win all or a healthy majority of county lines effectively cleared the field.

It’s been 30 years since New Jersey voters chose a woman candidate in a statewide election — Whitman in 1993 — but it stands on the cusp of sending its first female to the U. S. Senate.

The county line is alive, well and powerful.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.

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10 responses to “The Stars Are Aligned for Tammy Murphy, County Chairs To Follow”

  1. Agree that the County Line is alive and well. But so is grassroots opposition to it, and to the Murphy’s rank nepotism. I think you are underestimating the revulsion people have to her announcing her candidacy. This is going to be more of a fight with Andy Kim then you think.

  2. Agree that the County Line is alive and well. But so is grassroots opposition to it, and to the Murphys’ rank nepotism. I think you are underestimating the revulsion people have to her announcing her candidacy. This is going to be more of a fight between the NJ party establishment and the Murphys, and the grassroots progressive activists who support Kim than you think.

  3. Believe it or not many NJ Ds are not machine members and won’t support this machine maneuver. If the national Ds want the NJ Senate race to be in play, then by all means allow the filthy NJ political machines to anoint Tammy Murphy as the D candidate. The Rs are licking their chops over that prospect.

  4. Pulleeze! No Tammy Murphy! She and her husband, Phil KNUCKLEHEAD Murphy are carpetbaggers from Massachusetts. They even hate the NY Yankees and NY Giants (they’re fans of the NE Patriots who lost to the Giants in 2 Superbowls). Phil has done nothing but harm and damage New Jerseyans at every turn. He’s raised their property taxes, he’s ruined the state’s economy with the highest property, income, sales taxes, highest gasoline taxes, ridiculous pro-Nazi gun control agenda, trying to ruin the NJ Shore with the building of the 2nd biggest offshore wind turbine farm in the WORLD; after Communist China!!!! Murphy stands to make tens of millions or hundreds of millions for himself, while he ruins the aesthetics of the Jersey Shore and the killing of whales and dolphins and other indigenuous animals and birds.

    Governor Murphy has been an absolute nightmare for New Jerseyans. Especially now that he’s saying NJ is going to go full EV in 2030–with no way for people to pay for these expensive cars no one wants, and no infrastructure to support all-electric vehicles. The proof shows that the cost of running an EV is equivalent to $17.99/gal. of gasoline.

    No more Murphy’s in New Jersey PULLEEEZE!!!!

  5. Getting the county line as a Democrat in New Jersey is almost as good as being appointed to the Senate. Ms. Murphy will run and be nominated and elected without any serious electoral challenge from within the Democratic party. Shouldn’t we have a single Open, Nonpartisan primary where all candidates run and all voters (even the 2.4 million voters that have chosen not to affiliate with the two parties) can vote? The idea that a handful of party bosses will determine who goes to the Senate from our state just feels wrong.

  6. I have been and currently serve as a Democratic Committeeperson since 1969. It will be my distinct honor to campaign 24/7 for Tammy Murphy. I have the pleasure of working with the First Lady on a myriad of projects geared toward assisting the less fortunate in our state. The First Lady has emphasized among other social and human services programs the need for Maternal Health, from the matter of prenatal care through the delivery of a child and then the care of both the mother and child going forward. The First Lady is a professional and knowledgeable person and most of all possesses the caring and concern for all. Both she and the Governor are a dynamic team to assist all in our state from the very young to the most senior. It is with unpardonable pride that I compose these comments with complete support for the First Lady and future US Senator Tammy Snyder Murphy.

    Bob Knapp, Member Hudson County Democratic Committee since 1969

  7. I have known NJ First Lady TAMMY MURPHY since 2015 – she’s whip-smart, a keen, thoughtful, caring and active environmentalist – who knows politics. She would be a great US Senator.
    Andy Kim is a very good Congress member (I like him) but doesn’t have the extensive political experience of Ms. Murphy.

  8. Andy Kim has been a great Representative. He knows the Federal Government, has had important committee assignments, small business as well as Armed Services.
    He has a robust constituent service operation in his office and knows the folks he is representing.
    Also intelligent and an honest, humble, family man just what we need right now.

  9. Tonight many of the Moorestown Democrats will be celebrating Congressman Andy Kim’s Senate campaign kickoff at the Double Nickle Brewing Company– we’re going back to where this all started 6 years ago!
    And last night at our committee meeting the team agreed that we’re all in on supporting Andy as he starts this run….while most people nationally will know him as the Congressman who was cleaning up the Capitol early in the morning after January 6th, at the local level we’ve seen his integrity, his commitment to doing what’s right, his ability to work across the aisle to pass meaningful legislation, and his commitment to the town he calls home and where he’s chosen to raise his family – Moorestown.
    We’re proud to support our local Congressman and Moorestonian as he starts this Senate run.
    Kate Wilson – Chair Moorestown Democrats

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