The peaceful transition of constitutional authority in the state of New Jersey, completed today with the emphatic punctuation of a 19-gun salute, ushers in a new day, to coin a phrase being tossed around. Phil Murphy’s address suggested a stark philosophical break from what the state has seen over the past eight years. He began by acknowledging his predecessor.
“To Gov. Christie, on behalf of our state, I thank you for your over two decades of public service to the state of New Jersey,” said Murphy.
But the new governor laid out a progressive agenda that didn’t criticize his predecessor by name but had Democrats, at least, cheering.
“A stronger and fairer New Jersey funds its public schools and delivers on the promise of property tax relief. It makes a four year college more affordable and provides free access to community college. And it creates new training programs to prepare our residents for jobs in an innovation driven economy. A stronger and fairer New Jersey creates tools for small businesses and women, veteran and minority-owned businesses to thrive instead of delivering massive tax breaks to a handful of select and connected big corporations that frankly don’t need them in the first place,” he said.
Murphy, the former ambassador and Obama stalwart has said that governors have never mattered more. He pledged to have New Jersey be a firewall against federal policies that negatively impact the state.
“We will resist every move from President Trump and a misguided congressional leadership. We will resist any moves that worsen income inequality, or divide families, or deny access to college for our Dreamers, or defund essential infrastructure, or gut health care for our children, seniors or the working poor,” continued Murphy.
As images go, the new first family promises to be very much in the forefront. The first lady, who’s accepted the title of quarterback for team Murphy, will have a desk in the Governor’s Office, and the children seem more willing to be up front than their predecessors.
“A recent news report called our mother, Tammy, the quarterback of the family. That may come as a surprise to our dad, given that he always plays quarterback in our family football games, despite the fact that his minutes have been in steady decline over the past few years,” said the governor’s son, Charles.
Outside afterwards there was the kind of bipartisan spirit you usually only find on days when all things seem possible, even cooperation between philosophical opposites.
“On many of those issues I stand with him: offshore drilling, some of the tax policies they’ve been putting up in Washington. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to stand up against some of those expensive proposals,” said Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.
“I thought he was very gracious to the outgoing governor. I thought he hit all the different points, in terms of the needs, that many in the activist community have been clamoring for. I think he tied us all together. He was talking about transcending negative politics and raising up the state. I thought it was great,” said NJ Working Families Executive Director Analilia Mejia.
“In this business, you learn to adapt and you learn how to navigate through, whomever the personality is that you’re dealing with. So, I think it’s going to take everybody a period of time to understand how he works in an executive type of capacity and how we work either in conjunction with or fighting against,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.
Those and many other questions will be taken up beginning Wednesday, when the new governor kicks off what aides have said will be a busy week. But for the rest of this day, it’s time to party, and to bask in the optimism that defines the first hours of any new administration.