Gov. Phil Murphy said he “welcomes” the notion that Tuesday’s Assembly elections would effectively become a referendum on voter approval at the midway point in his governorship.
“It’s certainly at least partly a referendum and we welcome that, because we like where we’re headed,” Murphy said at an unrelated event Monday in Bridgewater.
Voters will head to the ballots on Nov. 5th and decide on the fate of all 80 Assembly members, as well as one state senator. Republicans have tried to frame the campaign as a referendum on Murphy.
The reelection campaign for lawmakers in the lower house – at the midway point of the chief executive’s first term – is often called a midterm election. Voters would use such an election to vent frustration or show approval of that official by voting for members of that party – in this case, the Democrats – or vote for candidates from the opposing party, the New Jersey Republicans, who hold minorities in both the Assembly and Senate.
The most important dynamic in the current legislative session has been the intraparty fight between Gov. Phil Murphy and South Jersey Democrats, headed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and at times refereed by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District.
“Phil Murphy inherited a state with high taxes, but he campaigned on a promise for a stronger and fairer New Jersey,” state GOP Chair Doug Steinhardt said in an Oct. 29 statement.
“In reality, his radical tax hikes and progressive platitudes make us weaker and poorer. His solution is to tell working- and middle-class families, who can’t afford his high-tax agenda, to move.”
Murphy has spent the past weekend crisscrossing the state in support of Democratic candidates, both incumbents as well as challengers in long-held Republican Assembly districts.
Progress on major legislative issues has effectively ground to a halt after budget talks ended on June 30, given that all 80 Assembly members have been on the campaign trail.
They have included marijuana criminal record expungement, legalization of recreational marijuana, reform of New Jersey’s corporate tax incentives, and legislation to cut public worker pension health care plans in New Jersey.
But come the end of elections, the expectation among Trenton insiders is to get to work immediately the next day, on Nov. 6.