The Winner of the Murphy Kim Debate

An emerging issue in the Tammy Murphy-Andy Kim battle is the First Lady’s background as a Republican.

Asked about it at Sunday night’s debate, Murphy said it was “irrelevant,” repeating something she has said previously. That was:

“The Republican Party left me.”

Fine and good.

Then, she went further, contending that Kim’s voting record is not as spotless as his supporters believe. The First Lady pointed to votes Kim cast in the House that she said did not protect migrant children.

In fact, a release “Team Tammy” sent out during the debate claimed that:

“Andy Kim Voted With MAGA Republicans Against Stopping Kids From Being Caged At U.S. Military Bases.”

If you recall, putting “kids in cages” was a major issue for Democrats during the Trump years.

Kim did not directly address the accusation during the debate, nor in a press availability afterwards.

But he stressed his opposition to Trump, saying he first ran for Congress in 2018 in CD-3 to stop Trump and that he twice voted to impeach him.

As for Murphy’s association with Republicans, Kim said he is not satisfied with her response.

If the Republican Party “left her,” just what were the GOP values that attracted her in the first place?

Murphy brushed that aside, saying she has given much more money over the years to Democrats than Republicans. In fact, she said the first politician she ever donated to was Bill Bradley, a legendary figure for both long-time Democrats and Knick fans.

She also stressed – as she has done before – her party-building work since becoming First Lady six years ago. She spoke of improving party headquarters in Trenton and travelling the state on behalf of Democratic candidates. She said she rang a lot of doorbells.

Kim wasn’t buying it.

“I just don’t understand it,” he said of Murphy’s Republican past.

The First Lady had another response to Kim’s criticism, noting that the congressman, a one time diplomat, had worked in Republican administrations.

Kim said afterwards that this was insulting and a “sign of desperation.” He said he was a federal employee and that such employees really work for the U.S. government, not the president.

The spat over these matters may seem a bit silly, but keep in mind that both candidates agree on such major party issues as fighting climate change, protecting abortion rights and strengthening gun laws. This is common in primaries.

Still, there are a few subtle differences.

Murphy criticized Kim for not backing Medicare for all. He responded that there are a number of ways to get to universal health care and that Medicare for all may not be the most practical.

As for student debt, Kim said he was not fully supportive of the president’s attempted debt relief plan, as Murphy was. Kim said he wants to solve the problem through congressional action and not via executive order.

Foreign policy also produced general agreement on support for Ukraine and Israel, while also acknowledging a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

So the primary is bound to turn on more personal issues – like Murphy’s political past, and even more so, her status as First Lady.

It was no surprise that in his opening statement, Kim suggested that Gov. Phil Murphy and party bosses have their thumb on the scale in trying to make the First Lady a U.S. senator.

Murphy used her opening statement to repeat a line she has used previously – the Senate needs “more ticked off moms.” She is the mother of four.

Sunday’s debate, which was hosted by the NJ Globe, On New Jersey, and the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, was the first of the campaign. The candidates are running to replace the indicted Bob Menendez, despite the fact he has not officially bowed out of the race. His support, though, among Democrats is virtually non-existent.

The debate came eight days after the first defining moment of the campaign – the endorsement of Kim by Monmouth County Democrats on Feb.11. This was a blow to the Murphys and the party establishment.

Which brings us to more of the post-debate intrigue.
In talking to the press afterwards, Kim said that the governor is making calls and putting a “severe amount of pressure” on his wife’s behalf with Burlington County Democrats, whose convention is this coming weekend. And he said the same thing is happening elsewhere in the state.

This is politics as usual, of course, but Kim sees it as an attempt by the governor to stack the deck.

The Tammy Murphy campaign was asked in an email about Kim’s bullying allegations but is yet to respond.


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14 responses to “The Winner of the Murphy Kim Debate”

  1. Shame Murphy had to decide to run after Kim had declared his candidacy. Murphy has done a great deal on issues of maternal health, but Kim has an extensive track record in Congress and of public service during Obama administration. Murphy’s attempts to paint Andy Kim as a Republican supporter (ha!) did not help her and probably will back-fire given her own history. It’s a shame she could not have run for Congress or state legislature as her entry into politics. We could be giving our campaign donations to the President and Congressional Democrats instead.

  2. Tammy Murphy is COMPLETELY unqualified to run for US Senate. She has zero experience to offer while Andy Kim has much experience in Congress and much more foreign policy experience previously working for the executive branch. Tammy Murphy has little to offer other than family wealth while Andy Kim has an actual wealth of experience to offer.

  3. It is significant that Tammy Murphy indicated support for Medicare for All. A year-old Eagleton poll shows that 71% of NJ voters support Medicare for All. The NJ Universal Healthcare Coalition has been trying to get Kim on board for years, to no avail.
    Kim’s reply that Medicare for All may not be the best way to achieve universal coverage makes no sense. Medicare has existed for almost 60 years and has an efficient administrative infrastructure in place. It needs to be expanded and improved, but it is the best foundation on which to improve health coverage.

  4. Andy Kim is trying to act like he wants the voters to be able to choose, hence his reaching out to Patricia Campos and Lawrence Hamm to have them sign a petition to abolish the County Line system. Yet Andy did and said nothing about allowing Campos and Hamm to participate in the debate last night. Andy didn’t ask the his opponent in 2022 share the line with him, but now it’s all important? That’s being disingenuous. Andy claims that people are applying pressure from the Murphy campaign in Burlington County, but his slew of supporters, especially Troy Singleton, are doing the same kind of calls on behalf of Kim. In my opinion, they are tearing each other apart for whoever the GOP candidate is.

  5. Why not Mikie Sherrill. She could be great. Why doesn’t Mrs. Murphy throw her full support to a woman like this, or even elected state politicians like Linda Carter. These are Democrat politicians who have served well for a long time, and perhaps would like a chance to move up.

  6. The Murphys are bullying committee members in Burlington County to try and get preferential ballot placement (the line). Is this the kind of Senator we want? Absolutely not. Let’s support Andy Kim and his anticorruption campaign.

  7. “They say the difference between a hockey mom and a Pitbull – lipstick.” Politicians used to dismiss the concerns of the soccer mom, stated Sarah Palin in her debut debate. On the political stage she was relatable; folksy and a down-to -earth angry mom. And we all saw how that worked out for her and running mate, John McCain. Women were pretty insulted and as a result , did not vote for that ticket.
    Tammy repeated a line she has used before in her opening statement, that the Senate needs, “more ticked off moms.” Women are not going to see that as a qualification for the Senate. { Mom and Dads are concerned with Immigration, housing, education, opportunity, energy and food bills, the war on drugs, a true discussion on abortion, inflation, youth mental health crisis, learning loss, increase in gas and toll prices, second jobs diminishing family life, the loss of faith, wars and the price of wars on society , on and on }
    The ” ticked off ticket” is a one way ticket to nowhere. Tammy and Sarah can discuss that game plan at the next soccer game. And by the way, a lot of those ticked of moms are union workers or spouses of the union workers. Unions may endorse you but it doesn’t necessarily mean their members are going to vote for you.

  8. I too want to know what attracted her to the Republican Party I the first place. People can of course change their values but if done for the convenience of a Majority Party it doesn’t speak well of them. What ever, I intend to vote for Kim anyway.

  9. Andy Kim listens, then responds. Tammy Murphy reads off the memorized talking points, doesn’t answer the questions much of the time, and says she’s been everywhere. But few people I know here in South Jersey have seen either Murphy in person. Meanwhile, Andy Kim’s done an open town hall just about everywhere in his district. i doubt we’ll see much more of her or her husband in Andy’s district given his level of proven constituent service.

  10. Once Kim was announced it has been offensive to me to see the Murphy power machine require all party leaders support Tammy instead of Kim. Murphy placed way too many campaign workers into his administration despite little experience. This is an extension of that behavior.

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