Gov. Phil Murphy has picked up the first newspaper endorsement of the 2021 governor’s race, winning the backing of the New York Daily News.
“Coming in after the wreckage of Chris Christie, Murphy has taken steps to right the woefully underfunded state pension system. He raised the minimum wage. He got marijuana legalized for adults,” the editorial said. “Most important, he is leading Jersey successfully through the nightmare of COVID, where, like its New York neighbor, the plague landed first and hardest before we knew how to fight back.”
Newspaper endorsements don’t have the value they once did – the Star-Ledger backed independent Christopher Daggett in 2009 and he received just 5.8% of the vote – but campaigns still view them as trophies of sorts.
This is the first Daily News endorsement in a New Jersey gubernatorial race since they backed Jon Corzine for re-election in 2009.
While the Daily News said Murphy was “off base” calling Jack Ciattarelli “a Trumpist crazy,” saying that the Republican challenger “won’t flood the state with guns or ban abortions or overthrow the constitutional order,” the editorial board said that on Covid-related issues, “Ciattarelli is willingly and dangerously wrong.”
“Though vaccinated himself, Ciattarelli is opposed to any vaccine mandates. The same for mask requirements. Rather than have schools force mask-wearing, as they must, Ciattarelli would leave it to parents. This is enough to disqualify him from the governor’s office,” the editorial said. “We care a hell of a lot because Jersey ain’t Florida or Texas; if our neighbor right across the river gets sicker, New York gets sicker.”
While endorsing Murphy, the Daily News acknowledged that the first-term governor “isn’t perfect.”
“He needs to take a much harder look at the Gateway boondoggle and trim it down to size (he used to be a top Goldman Sachs dollars wizard),” the editorial board wrote. “And he’ll need to break it to Jersey drivers that congestion pricing is coming to Manhattan, and it won’t end the world. He can do that after his reelection.”
In 2017, Murphy was endorsed by the Star-Ledger, The (Bergen) Record, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and four Gannett papers: The Courier News, Home News Tribune, Courier-Post and the Daily Journal.
The Asbury Park Press, Daily Record, New Jersey Herald – all Gannett-owned newspapers – and the New York Post, backed Republican Kim Guadagno.