It seems that the presidential election comes into discussion earlier each cycle. With the midterm elections half a year away, presidential hopefuls are starting to put together their structural and financial operations. New Jersey residents might want to pay attention, as the Garden State could become the springboard for candidates seeking the oval office.
The Governor just returned from a trip to Ireland in which he convinced an Irish company to relocate its US offices to Fair Lawn, NJ. This trip, along with his previous trips and other recent details, have all nurtured the rumor that Murphy is gearing up for a presidential run.
To his credit, Murphy has emphatically said that he’s not going to run. The actual quote is, “I’m not running. I’m not running. Jesus, lord, help me,” but all the evidence points to the fact that on some level, he is seeking higher office, be it the presidency or some position in DC. If you want to know what’s really happening in the world of American politics, pay attention to what people do, not what they say.
Let’s look into what the Governor has been up to that’s making it difficult to put presidential speculation to rest.
The Governor Loves to Travel!
One of the biggest telltale signs of a potential presidential run is an official who spends a lot of time abroad. During his first term, Governor Murphy traveled to Israel, Germany, and India. He visited his ancestral homeland in Ireland this April, further deepening his foreign credentials.
While many governors travel abroad during their terms in office, it is often related to specific business interests of their state. South-western governors often head to Mexico for trade talks, states along the Canadian border often visit Canada, and so on.
On the other hand, Murphy has chosen trips with notable foreign allies, all of which often take outsized roles in US foreign policy. No nation more so than Israel, which has become a must-do for anyone who intends to land the presidency. One article humorously labeled the middle-eastern nation “the new Iowa” for GOP candidates; I’ll go one further and say that that’s the case for both parties, not just the republicans.
His time at Goldman Sachs’ Hong Kong and Frankfurt offices and his tenure as the US Ambassador to Germany had already given him experience in the international community. His trips since becoming Governor have further developed his image as a leader who knows how to get things done on the biggest stages.
Murphy’s recent trip to Ireland may be multi-purposed. At the same time, he’s showing his ability to conduct business on the highest levels, getting foreign press, and more deeply connecting to his Irish ancestry, something that nearly 10% of the US population claims as their heritage.
Governor Murphy’s wife, former campaign manager, senior advisor, and other close friends all have a new job, chairing and operating the Murphy super-PAC and 501(c)(4), Stronger Fairer Forward. These organizations have sprung up at the beginning of 2022, just after his reelection.
While it’s commonplace for candidates to remain mum about the purpose of their organizations, it is almost always the case that a super-PAC preempts a candidacy. It appears that Murphy is following in the footsteps of former Governor Chris Christie, and perhaps even in response to what some saw as a strategic error on Christie’s part, getting started too late.
Technically, super-PACs cannot help or coordinate with a candidate’s official political campaign. Because of that, they’re often started by “friends” or supporters of a particular politician and their policies. I will go on the record to say that the supposed lack of connection between candidates and their super-PACs is laughable. In the case of Murphy, the fact that his wife, campaign manager, and senior communications advisor just happen to be the people in charge make it a particularly transparent move.
I’m not picking on Murphy for doing anything out of the ordinary; this is something that almost all candidates do. There’s been over a billion dollars donated in 2022 alone, so Murphy isn’t alone; there’s quite a bit of money flying around! You can see a thorough, although likely incomplete, list of super-PACs if you’re curious.
Governor Murphy has taken many notable foreign trips, seen super-PAC/charitable organizations created to further his policies, and done the most important thing for any political candidate, say they’re not running. Pay attention, 2024 will be here before you know it.