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Gov. Phil Murphy

Murphy not ready to impose further limits on political campaigns in response to COVID

Existing broad restrictions appear sufficient, governor said

By Nikita Biryukov, March 18 2020 4:00 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said he wasn’t ready to impose restrictions on political campaigns separate from those already in place as a response to COVID-19.

“I’m not sure that I’m prepared to say to any campaign ‘no human-to-human interaction,’ but there’s not a lot of it going on,” Murphy said. “We’ve already limited interactions to 50 people of any kind, and then within that, there’s got to be social distancing.”

Most campaigns, both those in state and at the national level, have suspended most or all of their in-person voter contact.

They aren’t canvassing, both because of the threat posed by the novel coronavirus and, to a lesser degree, because of the optics of going door-to-door during a pandemic.

The majority of political events have also been suspended.

A growing number of county party organizations are postponing their conventions or conducting them through electronic means, and campaigns have cut rallies and other appearances.

Arati Kreibich, a progressive primary challenger to Rep. Josh Gottheimer, has limited events to those involving 10 or fewer in-person attendees.

She’s also holding phone banks remotely and having volunteers make calls from their homes.

Actions like those, Murphy said, are enough to keep the administration from issuing any direct orders dealing with campaigns.

“I can’t recall the last time I saw an actual political event happening,”

Still, COVID-19 has massively disrupted the year’s campaign cycle, and it’s not yet clear whether the state’s races will return to their normal tempo before their votes arrive.

The governor said he expects to announce how the state plans to deal with its coming elections on Thursday.

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