March 3, 2024

ICYMI - Murphy’s Attempts to Stack the Deck Fail Against Kim’s Grassroots Momentum

MOORESTOWN N.J. – This morning, a day after Congressman Andy Kim’s fourth Democratic county convention win in a row in which delegates voted by secret ballot for their voice, New Jersey voters woke up to another series of headlines showing that First Lady Tammy Murphy’s attempts to use the rigged machinery of New Jersey politics to obtain a U.S. Senate seat are failing against Kim’s grassroots momentum.

These headlines reinforce months of reporting of Murphy’s failure to connect with New Jersey Democratic voters, her constant defense of rigged political systems and her close friends, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Star Ledger: Fear and loathing in New Jersey. U.S. Senate race featuring governor’s wife at a boiling point.

With a new narrative that the seemingly invincible first lady is in for a real race, there is real fear Gov. Murphy and party leaders could punish those who openly support Kim over his wife, Democrats told NJ Advance Media, which interviewed three dozen local officials, delegates, political insiders, and experts over the past three frenetic weeks.

One Monmouth County Democratic official who backed Kim said it “feels like we’re talking about the mafia.”

Veteran environmentalist Jeff Tittel agrees. “I’ve heard people say: This is like Tony Soprano having a sitdown. You don’t know if you’re be gonna hugged or shot,” joked Tittel, a longtime critic of the Murphy administration. “Trenton is really like fear city.” “But underneath, there is this anger and rebellion boiling more toward the surface.”

Several officials and party delegates declined to speak on the record, saying they were nervous the governor or party may find out.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski, who has endorsed Kim, said the party changed “and the party leaders didn’t notice” after the blue wave of 2018, when he, Kim, and several other Democrats were swept into office in then-President Donald Trump’s first midterms.

“Andy is appealing to the Democratic party as it currently exists in New Jersey,” he said. “The first lady is running a race designed to appeal to the party as it existed 10 years ago.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Andy Kim files suit challenging ‘the line’ in N.J. Senate race against Tammy Murphy

Allegations that Gov. Phil Murphy and the first lady are using their considerable power to line up endorsements in the counties, including the ones where the party bosses decide ballot position without a convention, have dominated the race.

Recently, a photo surfaced of the Murphys with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in a restaurant in July. Asked whether they were personal friends of hers, the first lady rolled her eyes.

“It is hard to explain to people outside of New Jersey how people can be ahead 20 points in the polls and still be the underdog.” It’s hard to explain that to people inside New Jersey. Still, Kim is betting his chances on people rebelling against the way things have always been done. Or a federal judge doing it for them.

“Rank-and-file Democrats, they don’t go along with it,” Kim said. “They want to make sure we have an actual democracy.”

Terry Callahan, 65, of Somerset County, said the fairness issue is resonating. “They thought it was going to be a slam dunk for Tammy,” said Callahan. “This is why people are so fired up about Andy Kim and the whole race. They keep trying to put the finger on the scale.”

Star Ledger (Opinion): It was a bad, bad month for the Murphys

When you’ve lost the American Prospect, you’ve lost the progressive movement. That’s the situation the Murphy family is in after the shenanigans of the past week.

Kim is the dream candidate for Democrats. He was educated at Oxford and went on to do State Department work in places like Afghanistan. He’s the kind of candidate who appeals to suburban liberals in counties like the Murphys’ county of Monmouth. Still, few expected that Kim would win the Monmouth County line by a landslide at the county Democratic Convention last month.

Kim also has a double-digit lead in head-to-head polls against Murphy. At this point, it looks like Tammy Murphy’s only hope is that those urban machines come through for her.

As recently as Jan. 30, New York Magazine put out a piece headlined “Tammy Murphy and the Nepo State: She’s leveraging her husband’s power as governor of New Jersey to lock up a Senate bid. She appears unstoppable.” What a difference a month makes. Now her campaign looks to be unstartable.