Two wise men for a Governor Murphy

Two months ago, a prominent Democratic friend of mine told me that Phil Murphy insiders give him a ninety percent chance of being elected as New Jersey’s next governor. I responded by saying that the massive unpopularity of Chris Christie and Donald Trump in the Garden State gives him a ninety-five percent chance.

With the introduction of TrumpCare, the chances of Phil Murphy’s being elected governor have risen close to 100 percent, despite the fact that the NJGOP has two solid gubernatorial candidates in Kim Guadagno and Jack Ciattarelli. It is estimated that 570,00 New Jerseyans will lose their health insurance coverage if TrumpCare is enacted.

When you combine this factor with the aforesaid massive unpopularity of Trump and Christie in a deep-blue Democratic state, the defeat of Murphy becomes a virtual impossibility. The only factor that could change this would be a massive scandal involving him. And that is highly unlikely.

So the focus on Phil Murphy is not so much on whether he will be elected but more on how he will govern. There is legitimate concern that he will be the second coming of his fellow Goldman-Sachs alumnus Jon Corzine, whose failure as governor was largely due to his disdain for the “political class”. While Corzine was willing to heed the advice of the political class in campaigning, he did not understand the necessity of seeking advice from the political class in the context of governing.

Successful governing involves understanding of the basic concept that politics is the art of the possible, and that a governmental leader cannot succeed in enacting a policy agenda unless he or she has first mastered this concept. Fortunately for Phil Murphy, he has two personal friends from the political class, one a Democrat and one a Republican, who can serve as his “wise men” on whom he can rely for seasoned advice in the context of governing.

These two wise men are Democrat Senator and former Governor Dick Codey and outgoing Republican Senator Joe Kyrillos. Both are men of outstanding competency, unquestionable integrity, scintillating intelligence, unsurpassed political acumen, keen policy insight and knowledge, and healthy intellectual curiosity. They both have excellent and distinguished records of public service as well.

Dick Codey took office as Governor in November, 2004 in the aftermath of the Jim McGreevey exit from office amidst scandal. During his 14 months in office, he restored faith in government, dealt effectively with serious budget issues, and focused long overdue attention on the plight of the mentally ill. Had the Democratic bosses not cast him aside for Jon Corzine in the 2005 election, he would have been reelected and gone forward to establish a record that would have earned him a place in New Jersey history among its most effective governors.

Joe Kyrillos will be leaving the New Jersey Senate in January, 2018, and that will be a serious loss to both the Senate itself and the Republican Party. During his years of service in both the Assembly and Senate, he established himself as a leading expert and innovator on both economic development and fiscal matters, including the complex and vexing issue of education funding.

And despite his stature as a valued surrogate campaigner for Republican candidates for national and state office, Joe Kyrillos has a continuing excellent reputation as a person who can work with both sides of the political aisle.

Murphy would be well advised to appoint both these persons to high positions in his administration. They may both choose not to serve in his administration full time. Regardless, these should be the two wise men whose advice and support on governing Phil Murphy most highly values. And they will set him on a bipartisan course that will augur well for our state’s future.

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.

(Visited 34 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News From Around the Web

The Political Landscape