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10 Things You Didn't Know about Phil Murphy

Phil Murphy

Phil Murphy is the 56th Governor of New Jersey. He has held the position since January of 2018, having beaten out the Republican nominee Kim Guadagno. Currently, Murphy is one of the U.S. governors preparing to reopen their states.

1. Born in Needham, MA

Murphy was born in Needham, MA. However, he was raised in both Needham, MA and Newton, MA, which are situated very close to one another. For context, one can be found in Norfolk County while the other can be found in Middlesex County to the north.

2. Comes From a Kind-Of Middle Class Background

Background-wise, Murphy has called his family middle class on a good day. For context, his mother was a secretary while his father was a high school dropout who did whatever job he could, with the result that the family lived from paycheck to paycheck. Having said that, Murphy's mother put a high value on education, with the result that not just Murphy but also his three older siblings earned college degrees.

3. Had an Interest in Musical Theater

When Murphy was still in university, he had a very strong interest in musical theater, so much so that he was preparing to pursue a career in it. However, he had a change of direction before he finished his degree, with the result that he came out of Harvard University with an AB degree in economics. Later, Murphy would build on that foundation by going for a MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. In this, he was motivated to a considerable extent by a desire for the financial security that was missing from his childhood.

4. Made a Career For Himself At Goldman Sachs

In 1982, Murphy had a summer associate internship at Goldman Sachs, which proved to be the first step of a very lucrative career for him. Apparently, he was quite good at making deals, with a particular point of pride being his ability to serve as a neutral middle man for two parties that didn't like each other very much. Due to this, Murphy shot up the ranks, with the result that he was heading up entire offices by the early 1990s. By the end of his day-to-day responsibilities at Goldman Sachs, he had become the co-head of the firm's Investment Management division, which was a position of considerable power.

5. Made a Fortune At Goldman Sachs

Speaking of which, Murphy made a fortune at Goldman Sachs. The exact number is unknown for obvious reasons. However, there have been estimates that put it as high as multiple hundreds of millions. Murphy continued to make significant sums in later times. In particular, he released some of his tax records in 2016, which is how interested individuals know that he made about $6 million and paid about $2 million in taxes in 2014. Furthermore, Murphy donated about 24 percent of his income to charity in the same period of time.

6. Became the National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee

From 2006 to 2009, Murphy served as the National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee. There, he became friends with the Chair Howard Dean because he liked Dean's vision as well as Dean's sense of discipline. As such, it was Murphy who provided the financial backing for Dean's ambitious 50-state strategy, which involved establishing a Democratic Party presence in places where Democrats had no realistic hopes of winning federal offices as a way of laying the foundation for future successes. There was a lot of opposition to the 50-state strategy from major Democratic figures, but it is interesting to note that Murphy refused to engage in the dispute in public because as far as he was concerned, that was something that should be kept within the Democratic Party.

7. Dean Praised Him For Understanding that Politics Isn't the Same As Business

There are some skills that are transferrable from the world of business to the world of politics. However, the two are not one and the same, meaning that a perfect businessperson would not automatically be a perfect politician and vice versa. In particular, Dean has commented that Murphy understands that it is much easier to command other people to do things in business than in politics, which isn't something that can be said for all of the people out there who have chosen to make the same jump.

8. Served As the U.S. Ambassador to Germany

Under the Obama administration, Murphy was named the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Supposedly, the fact that Murphy and his family arrived in Germany on an expensive executive jet irritated German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who saw it as more evidence of the longstanding U.S. practice of giving ambassadorships to rich donors. Something that presumably didn't help when the U.S. diplomatic cables leak in 2010 included negative comments that Murphy had made about Merkel as well as other senior German politicians. However, Murphy did do his best to contain the ensuing controversy, with the result that he continued to serve in his position until August of 2013.

9. Had Little Name Recognition Going Into the Gubernatorial Election

Murphy was the first Democrat to declare his candidacy for the New Jersey gubernatorial election in 2017. However, he had little name recognition, with the result that he was seen as a second choice rather than a front-runner. However, Murphy managed to secure numerous endorsements, which caused both of the frontrunners to endorse him after dropping out. Eventually, he went on to run against the Republican nominee Kim Guadagno, who ran as a moderate doing her best to avoid association with not just President Donald Trump but also Governor Chris Christie, whose popularity had sunken to record-breaking lows.

10. Hoping to Lift More COVID-19 Restrictions

Like his counterparts, Murphy is hoping to lift more COVID-19 restrictions in the near future. For instance, he is expecting that NJ restaurants will be able to serve diners outdoors and that NJ nonessential businesses will be able to let shoppers into their store within a matter of weeks. However, said course of action is very much dependent on the continuation of the downward trend in both new COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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