After narrowly defending his seat in a campaign against a Republican candidate who went on the attack over affordability and taxes, Gov. Phil Murphy vowed to continue his economic plans for the past four years into his next term.
“We didn’t change our stripes in 2017… and we’re not going to change now,” the Democratic governor said at an event Friday afternoon in New Brunswick.
As of the latest vote count, Murphy won 1.27 million votes, or 50.75%, while Republican former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli won 1.21 million votes, or 48.49%.
Most polls before the election showed Murphy winning by a much larger margin, between eight and 11 points.
Ciattarellli frequently attacked Murphy over issues such as taxes, the high cost of living and doing business, and overall affordability for both businesses and residents in the state. His campaign ads honed in on a 2019 clip of a Murphy comment at Rowan University that “if you’re a one issue voter and the tax rate is your issue, we’re probably not your state.”
“Who says that?” Ciattarelli often followed up with in his campaign ads.
Stronger and fairer
Murphy’s defended those comments, saying the high cost of living brings with it high quality education, transportation and workforce talent pool second-to-none.
The first-term Democrat, who’s often touted making New Jersey a “stronger and fairer” state, said he’s been able to focus on both areas during his first term.
“We’re pragmatic, pro-growth progressives,” the governor said. The implication “that all we focus on is fairer,” the governor continued, is not true. “The stronger part means growing the economy, and we’re equally committed.”
In the weeks leading up to the election, the governor notched several business wins, which he used as evidence that his economic agenda is paying off.
The relocation of fintech giant Fiserv to Berkeley Heights, which state officials said would add 2,000 jobs; the HAX accelerator in Newark with a potential 2,500 jobs; Netflix’s interest in using the old Fort Monmouth army base as a film and TV production facility; and Amazon’s plans to use office space in Jersey City were all offered as evidence of the incumbent’s success.
Ciattarelli countered that the state had been picking winners by putting up so much cash in subsidies to lure in these companies.
Tom Bracken, who heads the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, lamented that while the “fairer side was very-well addressed with all the progressive programs,” such as paid sick leave and $15 minimum wage, the other side has been neglected.
“The stronger side – which is building a strong business community so we can achieve the sustainable revenue we need … to pay for all those programs – wasn’t addressed as aggressively,” Bracken said
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