In Essex County, Murphy courts seniors

On the final full week of the campaign, Ambassador Phil Murphy was as loose as he’s been in this now 2-year-old effort to succeed Chris Christie. Speaking before a packed room of seniors in voter-rich Essex County, Murphy presented well-worn parts of his stump speech, while tailoring a bit to his senior audience.

“The middle class is hollowed out and ravaged, the dreams are broken of those who want to get into it. Public education is underfunded, infrastructure is ignored,” he shouted. “We’ve become more unfair by the day. It’s constantly pitting us versus them, or we could turn the page and embrace change and new leadership. Leadership that will respect seniors.”

That’s right, seniors who tend to vote in higher numbers. And there is some concern that the base, confident with a 15 to 20 point lead depending on which poll you read, might decide that the election’s in the bag.

“Do not have that attitude because you know what, look what happened in November and look who we have in our White House,” warned Essex County Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake.

Democratic Party Chairmain LeRoy Jones agreed. “Everybody’s looked at 2016 as a bellwether and let’s not duplicate that again,” he said. “2017 is going to be sharply focused. We’re not going to take anything for granted.”

As for the candidate, he appears content to play it safe. If this were football, it would be a prevent offense. Don’t fumble the ball, no Hail Mary passes. No mistakes. To that end, Monday’s so-called town hall felt more like a pep rally and featured prescreened questions on topics close to Democrats.

Maybe, but God is said to be notoriously non-partisan so for Democrats in Essex County. Get out the vote [GOTV] is the gospel and energizing the base is what’s critical. Monday, Murphy was intent on feeding the Democratic masses.

The ambassador left through a back door without taking any questions from the press, having delivered his message to its intended audience and showing little interest in answering any questions that he didn’t see in advance.