Asbury Park Press

Murphy: Paris Accord Pullout Is 'Disastrous Decision'

Asbury Park Press — June 2, 2017

By Mike Davis and Andrew J. Goudsward

NEPTUNE CITY — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy on Thursday called the move to pull out of the Paris Accord on climate change a "disastrous decision."

Speaking at a health care employee labor union, Murphy said the state's next governor would need to "walk and chew gum at the same time," restoring "progressive" values while also fending off "all the hostile stuff" proposed by President Donald Trump's administration.

New Jersey should become a "model state" for developing renewable energy to pressure other states and the federal government to more aggressively combat climate change, Murphy said.

But he acknowledged that the state was limited in what it could accomplish on its own.

"Part of the problem is, it's a global accord, so we could be the best students in class, but there's only so much we can do," said Murphy, a Middletown resident. "I think we'll use the megaphone honestly. If we can be a model state, we can set sort of a bar."

Like other Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Murphy on Thursday said he would push for the state to join the newly-formed U.S. Climate Alliance of states if victorious in the primary and general elections.

Facing criticism from Republican and Democratic opponents, Murphy on Thursday said his decision to accept public funds — and cap spending — on a potential general election campaign was at least six months in the making.

"I have no idea why all of a sudden it's out," he said, declining to comment further. "But let's talk about it on Wednesday. I'm laser-focused on Tuesday right now."

The state's public matching campaign funding allows candidates to receive $2 in public funds for every $1 received from donors. Spending is capped at $13.8 million.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Murphy's rivals in the Democratic primary have called for Murphy to participate in the matching funds program and cap spending.

But he rebuffed them, instead spending more than $20 million on the race — prompting Johnson to call Murphy's change of heart for the general election a "politically-motivated flip-flop."

Murphy on Thursday accepted the endorsement of New Jersey Citizens Action, a grassroots progressive nonprofit that focuses on issues pertaining to women, the economically disadvantaged and immigrants.

The most recent polling on the gubernatorial primaries shows Murphy with a commanding lead over former U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Jim Johnson, state Assemblyman John Wisniewski and state Sen. Ray Lesniak in the Democratic election.

In the Republican race, Guadagno leads Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, according to various surveys.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Murphy said. "I also thought the Brits were going to stay in Europe (in the European Union) and Hillary Clinton was going to be elected president."

Murphy, 59, has spent most of the gubernatorial campaign as the frontrunner, fending off criticisms from his opponents about his longtime career as a Goldman Sachs executive and using his considerable fortune — he's loaned his campaign more than $20 million — to "buy" the election.

After retiring from Goldman Sachs, Murphy served as finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee and served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013.

He kicked off his gubernatorial campaign last year, well before any other candidates — a move that allowed him to consolidate enough support in North Jersey to dissuade presumed candidates from jumping in.

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