Elections

Murphy surges towards Democratic primary in Newark, courting urban vote

adcda3d8b93eb840e30a_Murphy_PrePrimary1200x800.jpg
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy at a pre-election rally at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
ae64b9f40b7db136ef88_Murphy_PrePrimaryLeRoyJones1200x800.jpg
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy speaks to Essex County Democratic Chair LeRoy Jones. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
adcda3d8b93eb840e30a_Murphy_PrePrimary1200x800.jpg

Phil Murphy flashed his 1000-kilowatt smile to a crowd of approximately 1,000 people at the Robert Treat Hotel on Saturday in downtown Newark, three days before the Democratic gubernatorial candidate faces the voters in the primary election. 

Murphy made a final request to a critical mass of Democratic primary voters, hoping for a voter plurality in the tens of thousands that will give him his party's nomination for the November general election. 

"As Newark goes, and as Essex County goes, so goes the state of New Jersey, let there be no doubt," said Murphy. 

Sign Up for E-News

"We have to crack the back of the home foreclosure crisis. Environmental justice in communities like Newark is just as important if not more important than open space," he said. "We need a governor who will commit to comprehensively reform the criminal justice system in the state with the widest white/non-white gap of persons incarcerated in America. We need a governor who will make our economy and our society fair again. I will be that governor."

Murphy made his final urban surge stump speech in a city critical to Democratic primary elections. Newark is the political heart of Essex County, the pulse of which cannot be ignored as it is often the source of the most Democratic votes in statewide elections. 

"This is not the time for games. These are the first statewide elections that we've had in the country since the election of 45," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, a reference to both the election last fall of Republican President Donald Trump and the looming closely-watched gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. 

"We have to make sure that if we have a crazy person in the White House, we have to have a sane person in the Statehouse," Baraka said. "Nobody has our back in the White House. We need somebody who has our back in the Statehouse." 

Moments after the Weequahic High School marching band paraded away, Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones Jr, trumpeted the plurality vote number needed from Newark and the surrounding towns to help ensure that Murphy gets a chance in the November general election to get to the governor's office.

"The plurality is going to be 30,000 votes," Jones proclaimed to loud cheers. "Ask your friends, neighbors, and boyfriends and girlfriends who have broken up to get back together on Tuesday and vote. Come on home. We're not winding down. We are winding up." 

"We're going to have a full operation out in the street in the South, Central and West Wards. Those numbers are going to be a lot different than the Board of Education election," said Amiri "Middy" Baraka, Jr., the mayor's brother and chief of staff, referring to the traditionally low-turnout April election. "We're going to have buses, sound trucks and boots on the ground of people who are familiar with the districts." 

"We're going to do what we do best: bring out the vote during primary season," said North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. "Come primary day, we're ready." 

Murphy launched his campaign early, in May 2016, campaigning often in Newark, well before potential rivals, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop or state Senate President Steve Sweeney, had an opportunity to jump into the race. 

Fulop and Sweeney unexpectedly withdrew their names from gubernatorial contention by October, creating a domino effect that cleared the path for Murphy among party insiders, who closed ranks around the candidate last fall on the steps in front of the Essex County Historic Courthouse in Newark.

"This campaign is going to close the way it started - as a grass-roots campaign," said Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, Murphy's campaign manager and who also serves as chair of the Montclair Democrats. "We've knocked on over half-a-million doors and done small business street walks in cities like Newark. Now we have to close it out."

Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs executive and a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, will face off on Tuesday against primary rivals such as Jim Johnson, an attorney from Montclair and an under secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton administration, Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville). 

His competitors have assailed Murphy for the amount of money that he has poured into the primary campaign, reportedly more than $20 million. 

Murphy has continued to defend himself as a son of middle-class parents who grew up in humble circumstances outside of Boston before working his way up the economic ladder with two degrees from Harvard. 

But even more important for Murphy's credibility, especially in cities such as Newark, is how his stump speech will shift after the primary. Murphy spoke on Saturday about key urban issues such as home foreclosure and criminal justice reform. 

But if he wins the Democratic primary on Tuesday, he will be compelled to transfer to a policy platform focused on issues such fixing public train transit problems, fully funding suburban schools and reducing property taxes, core suburban concerns that could move Murphy away from urban concerns.

Murphy dismissed any notion that he would of post-primary urban abandonment. 

"Are you kidding me? I go out of my way to talk about things like the white/non-white gap in the persons incarcerated in our criminal justice system when I'm in suburban communities. I never want people to say I was one thing then and a different thing now," Murphy said while he pointed to the new 22-story residential high-rise building under construction next to the Robert Treat Hotel and across the street from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). 

"We should be happy that building is coming. I've got a skill set and a set of experience that I hope would contribute to more development. But if Newark only works for the in-comers, and doesn't work for the people who fought and stayed here, we will have failed. We've got to develop the South Ward just as much as we've got to put that building up." 

As Murphy sped off towards his next campaign stop, an eclectic crowd continued to mill around downtown. In the corner of the hotel ballroom, former Mayor Sharpe James, an early supporter of Murphy who was dressed in a navy track suit with a matching slightly sideways Yankees cap, munched on a hot dog before slyly sliding out of a side door. 

Roberto Clemente, Jr., the son of the late namesake baseball player who is venerated by Newark's Latino community, came to show support.

But one of the most truly important people in the crowd was neither famous nor connected. He is a primary voter on Tuesday, a member of a prized, deep cache of Democratic votes in Newark. 

"Murphy maybe can do something for Newark, but people have got to be ready to do it for themselves. They have to go out and get it," said Lamar Gresham, 23, who lives in the city's South Ward. "Murphy has to motivate people and stay positive. Then he's got a shot to help us make positive moves." 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 21, 2018

TRENTON - No one questions that the state pension system is a mess. And that's why some proposed legislation is getting a critical eye. Politico says the Assembly is set to vote on a bill today that it claims is "expressly written" to fatten the pensions of Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) and state Sen. James Beach (D-Camden) without them having to ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 20, 2018

STATEWIDE - What? So you are saying the state's pawn shops, second-hand stores and scrap metal yards are mob-infested? How could that possibly be? Well, just ask the scrappy State Commission of Investigation, which issued the 100-page report yesterday detailing how the mob is encouraging drug addicts to steal items to fuel this in-the-dark industry. Not only are these ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 19, 2018

TRENTON - It is June. That must mean our state lawmakers are yelling at each other over the proposed state budget, which must be adopted by the end of the month or government shuts down. Some media is refraining from coverage of the daily blow-by-blow, as the typical resident just assumes taxes will go up, no matter what. But, here is the latest. Gov. Phil Murphy has his proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 14, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD - The typical sports fan in New Jersey has until 2026 to get excited about professional soccer. That's because the Meadowlands could be the epicenter of the soccer world, a contender to host the World Cup. It could be  an amazing coup for New Jersey, although expect worldwide marketers to try to convince everyone that the big game would be played in "New ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 8:00 PM

New Brunswick

Sing-a-Long Grease: 40th Anniversary

Carousel_image_f442011d67fefc1cb5a2_spb-4937_newsletter_june_23

Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to "HighPoint.com Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

Couple netted $8M from fake Uggs, designer bags, prosecutor says

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Plainsboro couple could face charges of of selling counterfeit designer shoes and handbags, netting $8 million and sending $3 million to people in China, authorities said today.

Yan Shi, 36, and her husband, Weiping Liu, 40, were arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy to violate the New Jersey Trademark ...

OPINION

Hearing Loss Common in School-Aged Children

May 30, 2018

With close to 15% of U.S. children ages 6–19 experiencing hearing loss, New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) notes that May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month is the ideal time for parents to learn more about the sometimes-subtle signs of hearing loss, ways it can affect school-aged children, and where to find help.

“Some children are born ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 20, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities will be ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...