By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Phil Murphy has a campaign office in downtown Newark. That’s where he got a key endorsement today.
“CWA District 1 and our New Jersey locals and members enthusiastically endorse Phil Murphy for governor in the Democratic primary,” said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 vice president.
CWA represents state workers, Verizon workers and has 70,000 members in New Jersey. The state workers have fought with Gov. Chris Christie over his cuts to the pension system.
“After seven years of angry, sneering, self-dealing meanness, Phil Murphy is a breath of fresh air,” said CWA New Jersey Director Hetty Rosenstein.
Murphy is a former Goldman Sachs executive and Obama’s former ambassador to Germany. He became the Democratic front-runner after Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop suddenly withdrew, endorsed Murphy and triggered the withdrawal of Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Murphy is offering a makeover.
“Quite simply, after seven years of Chris Christie, our state is broken. Our economy is profoundly unfair and flat as a pancake,” Murphy said.
Murphy promises full funding of state workers’ pensions, a $15 minimum wage and a so-called “public bank.” Christie, he said, has been a failure.
“He cozied up to Donald Trump’s bigoted and hateful campaign in a blatant attempt to promote himself in hopes of getting out of New Jersey as fast as he possibly could. He even failed at that,” Murphy said.
Sixteen unions, public sector and private, have now decided to back Murphy’s candidacy. They like the contrast with Christie.
“All too often he has scapegoated unions, especially public sector unions and especially the CWA as the ‘them,’ attempting to poison all that you and your members do, day in and day out for the people of our great state,” Murphy said.
Earlier today, reporters got to look at Murphy’s tax return for 2015. His total income was more than $7 million, mostly from investments. He and his wife paid $2.4 million in income taxes, for an effective tax rate of 32 percent. Their property tax bill on a home in Monmouth County was $202,000. And they gave $41,000 to charity, not counting what their family foundation gives.
“I started with nothing, less than nothing. I never thought I’d be in the position I’m in today. I worked hard and I got lucky,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s Democratic rival John Wisniewski said today he’ll release his tax return soon.
Things have been going Murphy’s way ever since Fulop and Sweeney left the race. But 11 months is a long time left to stay on top.
“In the wrong hands, you might put your feet up and take something for granted. We’re not doing that — to the opposite, I’ll be in Edison for a town hall tonight with a couple hundred people and several thousand on the phone,” Murphy said.
For now, he’s in the catbird seat.