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NJ State of the State 2022: Phil Murphy faces reality

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Towards the end of his taped state affair speech on Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy made a detailed plea for a compromise.

“You are all fed up with the hyper-partisanship, bickering, inaction, division and endless pointing that we see in Washington,” Murphy said. “Well, me too. And we don’t want political stagnation in order to creep into our work here and develop. “

On the surface, the utterances seemed like a comforting trope at the end of a speech that for the most part sounded more like an informal campaign rally. The old olive branch for the political enemies is always practical.

But the question that begs Murphy as he moves into a second term – an area that has been unexplored by a Democrat for more than 40 years – is this: who is he compromising with?

Emboldened Republicans rush

This image from the video shows NJ Governor Phil Murphy delivering his fourth state address and saying that given the Omicron variant of COVID-19, he will face another emergency on Tuesday January 11, 2022 in Trenton, NJ would proclaim public health

If it’s the freshly reinvigorated, Trump-influenced New Jersey GOP, good luck with it. Energetic and angry, Republican Jack Ciattarelli scored 3.5 points to defeat Murphy. His colleagues, who took down the ticket, won 7 seats in the legislature.

They enraged Murphy’s progressive social policies, his powers to lock down, and the unresolved heartache over the deaths of 119 seniors at the state veteran’s homes. Anger is still simmering under the $ 52 million settlement agreement the Murphy administration recently struck with family members.

While the Republicans remain in the minority in the State House, they reacted to the speech like starving wolves stalking a wounded lame duck.

“We are running Democrats in every office this year: we will ensure that voters hold you accountable for the continued decline in our children’s mental health and for all of the other consequences of the arrogance shown by Phil Murphy today,” said Bob Hugin referring to Murphy’s decision to expand his emergency powers to deal with the recent surge in COVID-19.

Murphy defended this action at the beginning of his speech.

Mask requirement remains:Governor Murphy declares new health emergency

State of the garden state:Gun reforms, no new taxes: that’s on Governor Murphy’s agenda for 2022

Order in the ranks of the Democrats

This image from the video shows NJ Governor Phil Murphy delivering his fourth state address and saying that given the Omicron variant of COVID-19, he will face another emergency on Tuesday January 11, 2022 in Trenton, NJ would proclaim public health

In reality, Murphy needs his own Democratic Party to rally behind him now that his main political archenemy, Steven Sweeney, is no longer on the mighty throne as Senate President.

Sweeney was fired from the Senate, but the majority of the assembly shrunk from a staggering 52 to 48, giving Republicans some outside influence over controversial laws or veto overrides. Murphy can still ignore the Republicans as long as the Democrats stand united behind him. And it won’t be easy.

Suburban Democrats who survived the election are expected to be more cautious – and less inclined to advocate Murphy’s progressive issues.

That may explain why Murphy trumpeted property tax reform in his address and twice repeated his promise not to raise taxes in his next budget in six weeks. He outlined plans to cut prescription drug prices, an issue few will agree to – as long as they can withstand pressure from the big pharma lobby.

As Ciattarelli could say, it’s ironic how the word affordability has become the new buzzword in the state house.

And it explains Murphy’s trumpets of compromise. Keeping the party in a circle can mean a willingness to negotiate with one’s own party.

Congregation spokesman Craig Coughlin, who was officially returned to his post on Tuesday for another term, has proven to be a shrewd but largely reliable partner.

The new Senate President Nicholas Scutari von Linden remains an unknown quantity. His rise was helped by Sweeney, but Scutari is cautious, deliberate, and will have to navigate his own quarreling caucus.

“Let us work together in good faith and with a common goal. That doesn’t mean we won’t or can’t disagree. But it should mean that compromise and common sense are not dirty words, ”Murphy said at the end of his remarks. “Let us always remember the words of the late John Lewis and I quote him that a people is a family. We all live in the same house. “

At the moment, maintaining order in the New Jersey Democratic House remains his top priority.

Charlie Stile is a seasoned political columnist. For full access to his unique insight into New Jersey’s political power structure and his powerful watchdog work, subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @politicalstile

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