PORTLAND, MAINE – Gov. Phil Murphy took the reins of the bipartisan National Governors Association (NGA) today; later this year, he’ll become chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), a campaign organization dedicated to electing Democrats and defeating Republicans. If there’s a conflict between those two roles, he doesn’t see it.
“I think you can be both,” Murphy said. “You can be a proud Democrat, and you can still find common ground. Politics is the business we’ve chosen, so your job is to go out and win elections … but at the end of the day, elections come and go, and you have to govern.”
The NGA is meant to represent the interest of all governors of any party, which may represent a challenge for Murphy’s dealings with Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican up for re-election during Murphy’s term as DGA chair. Murphy said he has not talked with Reeves, who was not present at this week’s NGA conference in Portland.
“I haven’t spoken with him,” Murphy said. “I’m sure I will be very passionate and very supportive of the Democrat running for governor of Mississippi.”
The other two governorships up in 2023 are both Democratic-held: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is running for re-election, and the Louisiana governorship is open. Term-limited Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said today that, despite Murphy’s progressive leanings, he’d still be happy to host Murphy in Louisiana.
“Phil Murphy’s a good friend, he’s more than qualified to lead the DGA,” Edwards said. “And so I absolutely would want him to be involved in the race to succeed me… I would hope he would come.”
Murphy was previously the chair of the DGA in 2020, and his upcoming second term will make him the first governor ever to lead the organization twice. During his first year as chair, Democrats lost the governorship in Montana and did pick up any new seats, though the playing field to make gains was limited.