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Murphy, Democrats, ease to victory in election

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Likely voters in a recent poll put Phil Murphy on top for governor.
Likely voters in a recent poll put Phil Murphy on top for governor. - ()

Democrat Phil Murphy will be New Jersey's next governor and will preside over a state senate and assembly that are both majority controlled by democrats.

“Tonight we declare the days of division over,” said Murphy in his victory speech. “We will move forward together.”

Murphy defeated Republican opponent Kim Guadagno, who served as lieutenant governor alongside Gov. Chris Christie for the past eight years, with a convincing 12 point margin.  Murphy’s margin of victory was in line with multiple polls that suggested he maintained a double digit lead over Guadagno for the past few months. Associated Press called the election for Murphy minutes after polls had officially closed.

Murphy campaigned on promises to set New Jersey’s economy back on track after the state weathered multiple credit downgrades under Christie. He also promised to fund various state programs including the state pension program and public education on top of improving New Jersey transit and infrastructure. Critics of Murphy characterized his promises as unrealistic.

Throughout the campaign, Murphy maintained that his plans were “very credible,” but rarely divulged the details of how he would come up with the tens of billions of dollars necessary to fund the various state programs.

Murphy has pledged to grow the state’s economy, explaining that the Christie administration had left “billions on the table,” and put forth a plan to excise additional taxes from corporations by closing tax loopholes such as carried interest.

Although taxes, pensions, education and infrastructure dominated the public discussion around the election, those topics have not been the forefront of Murphy’s plans for his first 100 days.

Murphy’s campaign website outlines an intention to create a “state energy master plan” to get New Jersey running entirely on clean energy by 2050. Murphy has also said he would like to sign a marijuana legalization bill within the first 100 days of office.

Prior to the general election, Murphy talked up his plan to create a state bank that would make New Jersey the second state with its own bank after South Dakota created its own nearly 100 years ago. Murphy has also signaled his intention to declare New Jersey a “sanctuary state,” which would direct law enforcement not to expend resources on deporting illegal immigrants.

Murphy’s priorities will reveal themselves next year and they may be guided by State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who won re-election Tuesday night against Republican opponent Fran Grenier.

Sweeney has said he intends to re-submit numerous bills that were vetoed by Christie, including a bill that would allow for public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects in the state.

With Sweeney’s re-election and both state houses controlled by Democrats, Murphy will be able to hit the ground running with his legislative agenda at the beginning of next year. Considering the breadth of Murphy’s promises, the governor-elect will need a political deftness and expediency to accomplish his goals.

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Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn grew up in Massachusetts and previously covered the video game industry in Los Angeles, city politics in Malibu, California, and local news in Bergen County before working at NJBIZ. He currently covers cannabis, government and tech.

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