It’s no secret that Gov. Phil Murphy has national ambitions. After his inaugural speech last month, Fred Snowflack editorialized that Murphy sounded “very much like a candidate trying to position himself in the sweet spot of a fractious national Democratic Party…He was branding himself as a consensus candidate for 2024.”
Forget about the fact that Murphy won by a mere three points over GOP candidate Jack Ciattarelli. Forget about the fact that Murphy is the Jersey version of Bill de Blasio, whose presidential campaign went down in flames. Forget about the fact that, as Matt Friedman put it in this morning’s Politico NJ Playbook, “just in the last six years New Jersey has seen two charismatic politicians — Chris Christie and Cory Booker — make a run for their respective parties’ nominations and fail to make it out of the single digits.”
Murphy now has a dark money PAC run by his wife Tammy Murphy and Daniel Bryan, his Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, called Stronger Fairer Forward. This 501(c)4 lobbying group describes itself as supporting “policies that aim to strengthen and expand the middle class and provide opportunity for everyone. It will also focus efforts on protecting and reinforcing our democracy from the ongoing nationwide assault on election officials and state election laws.”
“Phil and I have spent the past four years working tirelessly to make New Jersey a stronger and fairer place for everyone,” Tammy Murphy said. “Though we’ve come far, there is still much more work to be done. These organizations will advocate for policies and candidates to further strengthen our economy and provide opportunity for all. Now is the time for action.”
Murphy is no stranger to dark money PACS, which are not required to disclose their donors. As Mike Lilley described here, NJEA, the state teachers union, runs a PAC called Garden State Forward, which funded its unsuccessful attempt to unseat then-Senate President Steve Sweeney. Also, NJEA is the primary funder for New Directions, which supports Murphy’s agenda. These PACS also support NJEA-affiliated groups like Education Law Center, the Latino Action Network, NJ Policy Perspective, and Working Families Alliance.
This year Murphy will serve as chairman of the National Governors Association and next year will be chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. He has denied presidential ambitions but the Washington Post has Murphy on its list of possible 2024 Democratic contenders and there have also been reports Murphy dined last month with famed presidential campaign consultant James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton’s campaign.