Phil Murphy pushes bipartisanship as he takes helm at NGA

Last updated on July 15, 2022

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday took the helm of the National Governors Association, launching his term with a message of bipartisanship and commitment to address youth mental health issues.

Murphy, a self-styled diplomatic progressive, has been steadily raising his national profile in recent months, fueling rumors that he could be a potential 2024 candidate should President Joe Biden decide not to seek a second term.

Murphy’s NGA speech on Friday in Portland, Maine, emphasized themes of bipartisanship and finding “common ground” between red states and blue states.

“I do not expect that, over the course of the next year, any of us are going to take off our hats as either ‘Democrats’ or ‘Republicans.’ In fact, I know we each wear these hats, and the respective underlying ideals they espouse — with great pride,” Murphy said, according to prepared remarks. “But I ask that we endeavor to look below these hats — and at each other’s faces — and recognize that we are partisans third, governors second, and Americans first and foremost.”

Murphy’s wife, Tammy Murphy, will also serve as chair of the NGA’s Governors’ Spouses’ Program with a goal to “eliminate our country’s maternal and infant health crisis,” an issue she’s championed in New Jersey.

As NGA chair, Murphy said he will make addressing youth mental health needs his core initiative.

The initiative’s “four core pillars” will focus on “prevention and resilience building, increasing awareness and reducing stigma, access and affordability of quality treatment and care, and caregiver and educator training and support,” his office said.

A Murphy spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions regarding how he would carry out the initiative or any specific policy proposals he’s promoting.

Murphy said he plans to “leverage innovative funding” to help shore up the mental health workforce and reduce stigma by committing to “back [struggling youth] up with access through education, helplines, and necessary state services centered on empathy,” according to his prepared remarks.