NEWARK, NJ — From taxes to vaccine mandates, there are lingering questions about what Gov. Phil Murphy will do leading New Jersey for another four years.
The day after the Associated Press projected that he would be re-elected, Murphy had two public events on his schedule, but took no questions.
During his victory speech Wednesday night, Murphy only briefly acknowledge the fact that about half of voters wanted to kick him out of office in favor of Republican Jack Ciattarelli.
“I renew my promise to you to work for every single one of you to keep moving us forward,” Murphy said.
Murphy has also yet to articulate a clear second term agenda. He has talked repeatedly about his progressive accomplishments from raising the minimum wage to a millionaires tax to protecting abortion rights.
As the first Democrat to be re-elected governor of New Jersey in nearly a half century, Murphy has pledged not to raise taxes. However, Murphy has left open the possibility of stricter vaccine mandates, a major issue in the closing days of the campaign.
Whatever he is planning, Fairleigh Dickinson Political Scientist Dan Cassino said aside from taxes, Murphy may be forced to revisit issues that dogged the first half of his first term, like NJ Transit.
“Once things come back to normal he’s going to have to deal with all these issues he was able to dodge because of the pandemic,” Cassino said. “He won’t be able to say ‘well Chris Christie messed this up,so it’s not my fault.’”
Murphy will also be working with less of an advantage, and less willpower to get things done in the New Jersey Statehouse. Republicans picked up seats narrowing the Democratic majority.
“They are not going to want to do anything to jeopardize reelection,” Cassino said. “This is likely to make anyone in the legislature really circumspect about passing any more liberal reform.”
Those legislative losses include the defeat of State Senate Leader Steve Sweeney— in a shocking upset to a conservative truck driver who spent very little on his campaign.