TRENTON, N.J. — Democrat Phil Murphy spent his first day as New Jersey’s governor-elect at a train station on Wednesday, thanking voters for choosing him to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Chris Christie.
At a commuter rail station in Hoboken, Murphy said he’s “literally 100 percent” concentrating on transitioning to the state’s top elected office.
Murphy’s victory over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Tuesday means New Jersey soon will be trading its brash-talking Republican governor, a friend and early supporter of Donald Trump, for a former diplomat with an at-times folksy demeanor promising to oppose the GOP president.
Murphy discussed the change of government in a phone call with Christie on Tuesday night and said the two would meet in the next couple of days.
But first, the governor-elect said he would be making a lot of telephone calls — and go to his son’s soccer game.
The former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany under Democratic President Barack Obama talked during his victory speech Tuesday in Asbury Park about pushing back against the Trump administration.
“With Donald Trump in the White House, Jeff Sessions as attorney general, polluters running the EPA, zealots heading the Department of Education and Steve Bannon holding Republicans in Congress hostage, governors will have never mattered more,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s early indication that he’ll stand up to Trump comes as Democrat-leaning New Jersey seemed to repudiate two-term governor Christie whose approval ratings have been in the teens.
“New Jersey sent an unmistakable message to the entire nation: We are better than this,” Murphy said, citing specifically the “demonizing” of immigrants and “mean-spirited” efforts to take health care away from some voters.
Murphy’s win came as Virginia also picked a new governor, Democrat Ralph Northam. The results marked the first statewide Democratic wins during Trump’s administration after Democrats failed to win special congressional races earlier this year.
The Christie-Trump focus combined with the nearly 900,000-voter registration advantage Democrats have over Republicans in New Jersey. Murphy’s huge cash advantage also had Guadagno running as an underdog in a state that she helped govern as Christie’s deputy.
Murphy will have an expanded Democratic-controlled Legislature when he takes office in January. Preliminary results show Democrats are on pace to pick up two seats in the Assembly, enlarging their lead from 52 to 54 of 80 seats. In the state Senate, Democrats are set to net one new seat, going from controlling 24 of 40 seats to 25.
Returns also show fewer than 4 in 10 voters turned out to cast ballots during the election.
Murphy beat Guadagno by 13 points. Guadagno congratulated Murphy, telling her supporters to clap for him after they began booing.
“It was a great race,” she said. “We left no stone unturned, and we would not have done it any differently.”
Christie was once one of the brightest stars in the GOP, regularly going onto late-night talk shows and winning re-election in 2013 handily over his Democratic rival. That began to change after the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal and snowballed after he angered voters by spending time out of the state for his presidential run in 2016.
Christie and Murphy have sharply different styles, with Christie famously shouting down voters. He quarreled with a woman on Election Day over a local political issue. Even in attacking the Trump administration on Tuesday, Murphy later promised to work with the White House when he found common ground.
Christie said that he spoke to Murphy after his win Tuesday and promised him his administration’s full support ahead of his swearing-in on Jan. 16.
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