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Gov. Phil Murphy, right, and Rep. Donald Norcross

Rep. Norcross not ready to endorse Murphy

Congressman says governor’s ‘done a very good job’

By Nikita Biryukov, July 19 2019 1:11 pm

Though Gov. Phil Murphy endorsed him Thursday, Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) isn’t ready to return the favor.

“I think the governor’s done a very good job, but I’m not endorsing at anybody at any point,” Norcross said when asked if he was ready to endorse Murphy for a second term. “We have plenty of time to address that.”

The two elected officials appeared alongside one another for tours of the state’s military installations.

Eight other members of the state’s House delegation — Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), Andy Kim (D-Marlton), Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill), Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) and Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark) — participated in the tour, which Norcross organized.

Not all members attended each leg of the tour.

“Today’s about the military and what we can do working together,” Norcross said. “That’s why the governor and I put this together — making sure that it’s seamless between the federal and state government and making sure war-fighters have everything they need.”

Though Murphy and Rep. Norcross have not fought publicly, the same is not true of Murphy and Norcross’s brother, South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross.

The governor and George Norcross are feuding over tax incentives meted out by the Economic Development Authority.

A task force Murphy convened to investigate abuses of the EDA’s programs has honed in on tax incentives given to firms linked to the power broker, including Conner Strong & Buckelew, George Norcross’s insurance firm.

Murphy has so far shown little willingness to hold that feud against the kingmaker’s allies.

In addition to his backing of Rep. Norcross, the governor endorsed Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, both close allies of the powerbroker, over progressive challengers in May.

Senate President Steve Sweeney, another close Norcross ally, has declined to endorse Murphy and has also declined to rule out mounting a primary challenge to the governor in 2021

To further complicate matters for the governor, the progressive groups that make up his base have taken aim at the Norcross political dynasty.

In May, a coalition of progressive groups, including New Jersey Working Families and South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, among others, sent a letter asking George, Donald and Philip Norcross be investigated for their involvement with the EDA’s programs to U.S. Attorneys Craig Carpenito and William McSwain and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

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