By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Democrat Philip Murphy continued his unorthodox march toward a gubernatorial candidacy today.
The former U.S. ambassador to Germany and Goldman Sachs executive holds periodic seminars devoted to public policy issues.
Today he was at Audible.com in downtown Newark to promote the importance of advanced industries.
Audible is the world’s largest spoken-word entertainment company and has more than 600 employees in downtown Newark alone.
“Keep it in mind that it’s a space we love to be used by the public and it’s also good to get people in to see basically a Silicon Valley operation here in downtown Newark, which most people find to be somewhat surprising if they haven’t been here before,” said Audible Founder and CEO Don Katz.
Advanced industries are R&D intensive. Murphy pointed out that in New Jersey the average salary in advanced industries is $105,000, compared to $59,000 in the traditional economy.
The state, he said, is not fulfilling its promise.
“In my meetings with business and civic and education leaders around the state — and I have a lot of them these days — I hear a regular refrain, frustration over the fact that we missed past opportunities to capitalize on our potential. New Jersey cannot afford to miss another opportunity,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s think tank is called New Start New Jersey. It’s aimed at bolstering New Jersey’s middle class.
He brought in experts from the Brookings Institution to help make the case the middle class needs more advanced industry jobs.
According to Brookings, New Jersey had 16 advanced industries in 1980 and is down to just four today.
“We are optimists. This state’s heritage is rich, its assets are plenty, the upside is enormous. But we need a plan and then we need to execute on that plan and if we do we’ll get back up to where we belong,” Murphy said.
With Sen. Bob Menendez under indictment, some wonder whether Murphy might shift his interest from the 2017 governor’s race.
When asked if he would be interested in a Senate seat if it were to open up before the governor’s race, Murphy said, “First of all, beyond the basic point of presumption of innocence and my enormous regard for our two senators — and I think that they’ll both be around here for a long time — the answer is no. I am looking very, very seriously on the partisan side of my life looking at running for governor, period.”
Murphy is trying to have a dialogue with leaders, policy makers and progressive New Jerseyans. His focus today on advanced industries advanced that dialogue.