Gov. Phil Murphy said politics played no role in his handling of the COVID-19 crisis as accusations that his administration has eschewed expert opinion for some of its reopening decision mounted Monday.
“I literally don’t think about politics at all. I literally don’t think about it at all,” Murphy said. “When I pick up the phone and call a mayor, I don’t care if it’s a Democrat or Republican. In fact, in many cases, we have been overwhelmingly reliant on folks, in my case, from the other side of the aisle.”
Though few Republicans were willing to criticize Murphy in the first weeks of the pandemic, those reservations have since vanished, and Republicans have repeatedly touted letters sent by Department of Health employees denouncing how Murphy has handled the pandemic.
Among their claims was a charge that Murphy was making decisions with politics as a driver and attempting to find data to back up those decisions after the fact.
The governor has repeatedly denied doing so, though his administration has released little information about what data was being used to determine reopening dates.
Though some recent decisions made by the governor were less than popular — he’s caught flak for a fumbled reopening of the Motor Vehicle Commission and for an indefinite delay to the return of indoor dining — some announcements departed from the reopening pattern in ways that benefitted Murphy politically.
Most notably, the governor ordered beaches to open on May 22, the Friday that began the Memorial Day weekend. Most other resumptions happened at the start of the work week.