Incoming Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy successfully ran on a populist economic platform, vowing to create a “fairer economy” for all New Jersey residents, despite having spent more than 20 years working at Goldman Sachs.
Murphy, a Massachusetts native, leveraged his 23 years at Goldman Sachs by selling himself as an advocate for the middle class, empowered by his finance expertise to curtail the power of big banks.
His opponent, Republican Kim Guadagno, attacked Murphy as a detached “Goldman Sachs millionaire,” but her efforts proved futile. Guadagno was unable to escape the specter of GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is finishing out his term with historically low approval ratings.
After joining the firm in the 1980s, Murphy spent much of his career leading the firm’s Frankfurt office, and later went on to become president of Goldman Sachs Asia. He faced backlash after the New Jersey Star Ledger revealed that his Asia division profited from an investment in a shoe manufacturer that exploited its workers and exposed them to terrible conditions.
Murphy parlayed his time at the investment bank, and the millions of dollars he donated to the Democratic Party, into a role as the Democratic National Committee (DNC) finance chairman. During his time as a diplomat he faced backlash for his harsh derision of German leaders in emails leaked by Wikileaks, one of which revealed that he referred to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “insecure.” He remained in that position for three years, moving on to become the U.S. ambassador to Germany in 2009.
Murphy’s campaign played up his working class background, with his campaign website noting that he paid his way through Harvard University by working part time jobs and relying on student loans. Murphy went on to receive a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Murphy, 60, who owns a riverside estate in Middletown, N.J., as well as properties in Italy and Germany, donated $15 million of his personal wealth to his campaign. His campaign platform focused heavily on progressive economic policies, including a mandatory $15 minimum wage, guaranteed earned sick leave statewide and creating a new childcare tax credit.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Murphy said he would prioritize “creating a stronger and fairer economy that works for all” New Jersey residents.
“We will rebuild our state from the bottom up and the middle out,” Murphy said. “And we will ask those at the very top to do their fair share. That means a higher minimum wage, equal pay for equal work. Tax fairness and the real property tax relief that our middle class and seniors so desperately need.”
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