ATLANTIC CITY – Gov. Phil Murphy doesn’t want to wade into New York’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“We’re not getting involved in that,” Murphy said when asked whether he backs Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his challenger, actress Cynthia Nixon.
“I’ve never met Ms. Nixon, but I’ve watched her on television as a performer. I have a fair amount of interaction, as you can imagine, with Governor Cuomo, and our teams have a fair amount of interaction together,” Murphy said. “That’s one we’re going to observe and stay out of.”
Murphy has spent his first six months brandishing his progressive credentials, and on many issues he appears to have more in common with Nixon than Cuomo. The two governors are currently in a conflict over their joint control of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — Cuomo has nixed Murphy’s plan to seat his own deputy executive director — and several allies of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, a Cuomo nemesis, now serve in the Murphy administration.
By not taking sides in a New York primary, Murphy avoids placing further distance between himself and Cuomo, as well as offending progressive Democrats who are an integral part of the Murphy coalition.
Cuomo, who was a sometimes ally of former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, has some detractors on the New Jersey side of the Hudson.
In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) slammed Cuomo for his opposition to improvements at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
“This is a governor trying to take control of the Port Authority through manipulation, intimidation and bullying,” Weinberg told POLITICO. “We in New Jersey are already familiar with that.”