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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

With primaries done, Murphy continues to demur on organizational lines

‘Nothing to report there,’ governor says

By Nikita Biryukov, August 07 2020 3:23 pm

Last month’s primaries haven’t pushed Gov. Phil Murphy to take a hard stance on the elimination of the party line.

“Got nothing new on organizational lines, and I don’t think either the coronavirus, COVID-19 nor the form of the election we took is either positive or dispositive toward that at the moment,” he said Friday. “Nothing to report there.”

New Jersey’s practice of bracketing candidates based on slogan, a practice that inarguably lends advantage to establishment-backed candidates, has drawn increased focus from good government advocates and progressive Democrats allied with Murphy over past months.

Those groups want party lines nixed because they stifle primary challenges. New Jersey is the only state in the union to use such a system. Most other states group candidates based on the office they’re seeking.

The governor demurred when asked if he supported doing away with organizational lines in February and January.

The practice helped Murphy secure a primary win in 2017, and while his progressive allies have not turned spears at the governor for his unwillingness to decry the custom, his reluctance to take a firm stance on the issue still poses some degree of political risk.

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