On May 7th, Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger released a comprehensive plan to re-open New Jersey's economy as we emerge from the public health crisis. Scharfenberger's 'Back to Work NJ' plan is a highly detailed, common-sense approach that if adopted, could be put into action within 24 hours, putting New Jersey on a fast track to being the national model for aggressive, smart re-opening.
The next day, May 8th, Governor Phil Murphy announced he would be forming a 'Restart and Recovery council' made up of dozens of representatives with a handful of subcommittees who will be tasked with analyzing, considering and recommending long terms steps for New Jersey's economic recovery.
The contrast of the two approaches could not be more stark. Scharfenberger's plan presents exhaustive research translated into a pre-determined 'start to finish' blueprint to get every sector of our society working again. It's a decisive, plan of action that calls upon our entire state to pitch in the recovery effort and empowers all 21 counties to meet guidelines and common-sense standards to produce positive results again. Murphy's plan rewinds that process to step 1, and spells out a potentially endless timeline with no benchmarks or metrics for measuring progress whatsoever. Murphy's proposed council takes a pass on making tough decisions in exchange for a hands-off, no accountability approach that glamorizes the state's current economic shutdown.
This has created quite the interesting dynamic if you consider at least the optics of this contrast. It seems as if Scharfenberger is acting like a governor and Murphy is acting like a minority-party legislator. Scharfenberger publicly puts forth broad, decisive plans to fix New Jersey's worst economic downturn in our generation. Meanwhile, Murphy lectures us from the comfort of a televised press conference that a long term ad-hoc council of academic thought and debate with no timeline and no end in sight is the way to dig ourselves out of this.
Whomever you agree with, just consider the dynamic here. Both Scharfenberger and Murphy are political kingpins of Middletown. Campaigns are defined by contrast (and sometimes a heckuva lot of irony). Do not be surprised if this is the first showdown in the start of a Middletown versus Middletown 2021 gubernatorial election.