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Jackie Burns, Gov. Phil Murphy's deputy campaign manager. (Photo: Murphy for Governor.)

Murphy announces top re-election campaign staffers

Jackie Burns moves from Sherrill staff to serve as deputy campaign manager; Jerrel Harvey will join campaign team

By David Wildstein, February 12 2021 8:00 am

Gov. Phil Murphy continues to bolster his re-election campaign team, picking veterans from the staffs of Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and Mark Kelly’s U.S. Senate race – and from his Trenton communications team – as he beefs up his own operation to win a second term.

“These talented individuals have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to hit the ground running on day one,” said Murphy. “Along with Mollie Binotto as our campaign manager, I’m thrilled to work with this team to make our case for a second term to the people of New Jersey.”

Jackie Burns, Sherrill’s communications director since 2018, will serve as deputy campaign manager.  Prior to joining the Sherrill campaign, the Westfield resident spent five years in the Office of the Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The hiring reunites Burns and Binotto, who ran Sherrill’s successful bid to flip a congressional seat in New Jersey’s 11th district and is now Murphy’s campaign manager.

Sherrill had rave reviews for her departing staffer.

“Jackie Burns has been a key member of our team from the earliest days of my first campaign. Her incredible skills have helped me to lead on key issues affecting our district on everything from tax policy to national security,” Sherrill told the New Jersey Globe.  “Her leadership and insight will be sorely missed, but Jackie will be a great asset to the impressive campaign team Governor Murphy is building.”

The governor’s deputy press secretary, Jerrel Harvey, is moving over to the campaign staff as the senior press advisor.

Harvey had joined the governor’s staff from the 2nd legislative district, where he served as communications director for Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) and John Armato (D-Buena Vista).  He is a former deputy chief of staff to Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel) and worked on the 7th district Democratic campaign in 2017.

“I’m very appreciative of Jerrel Harvey for his hard work, determination and playing an intricate role in my election to the state assembly and serving on our inaugural legislative staff,” Carol Murphy said.  “Jerrel has a deep passion and commitment to make a difference and have no doubt he will serve Governor Murphy well in his 2021 re-election campaign.”

The Murphy campaign has also picked Kaitlin Demchuk as their digital director.  She managed social media accounts for Kelly, a West Orange native who unseated an incumbent Republican U.S. Senator last year.  Demchuk was the deputy digital director for U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s re-election campaign and worked as deputy political director for Katie McGinty’s challenge to GOP U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in 2016.

Miguel Arreola, who the Democratic Congressional Committee regional research director for six key states in 2020, will be the research director or the Murphy campaign.  He served as field director for Xochitl Torres Small’s successful House bid in New Mexico in 2018.

Left to right: Jerrel Harvey, Kaitlin Demchuk, Miguel Arreola, Rafi Jafri and Rob Long. (Photos: Murphy for Governor.)

Two other veterans of New Jersey campaigns are already in place as part of a finance team that raised over $3.5 million in the last three months of 2020 – already qualifying for the maximum amount of public financing for the Democratic primary.

Rafi Jafri, one of the state’s strongest fundraising operatives, will serve as finance director.  He worked for the Democratic Governors Association as senior advisor when the governor served as DGA chairman last year and has held finance posts on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run for the presidency.

In 2017, Jafri was the finance director for the statewide Democratic coordinated campaign and for the governor’s inaugural committee.

Resuming his 2017 role, Rob Long will be the Murphy campaign treasurer.

Long has given up his post as Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs to run the compliance effort for the governor’s re-election.  He began working New Jersey gubernatorial campaigns as deputy treasurer for Jim Florio’s 1989 bid, and held key compliance posts for James E.  McGreevey’s 1997 and 2001 campaigns.

“From the beginning, Governor Murphy has been committed to building a talented and diverse campaign team that represents the very best of Democratic and progressive politics,” Binotto said. “I’m proud to say that we’re assembling a first-in-class campaign leadership team committed to reaching voters all across the state and winning a second term for the Governor.”

The Murphy campaign is expected to announce other senior campaign staff hires over the next few weeks.

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