Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-N.J.) new platform for the upcoming election seems focused on addressing concerns from progressive and independent voters, while also juggling reopenings in the wake of COVID-19.
Murphy’s administration has delivered on some of the promises that he campaigned on for his first term, such as legalizing marijuana and permanently establishing the Community College Opportunity Grant Program, which makes community college free to students.
But, with election year back in New Jersey, Murphy finds himself up against oppositional voices from both the Republicans and more progressive Democrats.
According to Murphy’s campaign site, he has not forgotten this goal that he set for himself. He wrote, “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, lifting the wages of nearly one million New Jerseyans.”
In addition, there are two major issues that were not at the forefront of his campaign going into 2018 that are now vitally important: the statewide response to COVID-19 “moving forward,” which coincidentally serves as his slogan too, and criminal justice reform.
Among some of the successes Murphy’s campaign claims to have accomplished over the course of his first term is the implementation of “the first broad-scale reforms to the state’s use-of-force policy in a generation.” Yet, there is no mention of the reforms he plans to work on in the future, nor any mention of defunding the police force.
Murphy has been adamant about not defunding the police, although he has advocated for more community groups. Meanwhile, Murphy’s top opponent for governor in this race, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, has actually worked in the past to consolidate policing systems.
Although nothing concrete is stated on Ciattarelli’s campaign site, he has demonstrated more concrete actions related to policing than Murphy has. The issue going into this gubernatorial race is how Murphy decides to distinguish himself on the topic of police reform.
Perhaps the more important issue weighing on peoples’ minds for this race is how the governor will deal with COVID-19. Murphy calls for more investment and relief funds to be offered to small businesses and communities alike, while Cittarelli’s campaign fails to focus on COVID-19 at all, instead staying true to the issues of taxes and affordable healthcare.
With Ciattarelli currently in the lead of the Republican primary, all eyes turn toward the November 3, 2021, election, where Murphy and Ciattarelli are set to square off.