New Jersey endows its governors with the most executive power in the nation. Chris Christie knew it and used that broad authority to become a hero of the Republican Party — a state-level strongman who forced Democrats to do his will or face his wrath.
Few thought Phil Murphy, his Democratic successor, would consolidate that power even further. Murphy struggled early on to move his progressive agenda through the solidly Democratic Legislature. Rival factions formed to oppose him. His signature proposal — a new tax on millionaires — was rejected twice.
Now, six months into a global pandemic that’s shattered the state’s economy and killed roughly 16,000 residents, Murphy has become one of the most popular governors in New Jersey history — and discovered just how much say he has over the state and its government.
The question is, how long can it last?