The Person Who Could Most Benefit Phil Murphy’s Get-out-the-Vote (GOTV) Effort: Stacey Abrams


One week exactly to go in the 2021 New Jersey Gubernatorial campaign.  If incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy gets out his Democratic vote, he easily defeats Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. If not, the race could be uncomfortably close for the incumbent Governor.

A major factor in an effective Get-out-the-Vote (GOTV) effort is the ability to generate grassroots excitement.   The Murphy campaign has arranged to bring into the state admired Democratic luminaries to generate such enthusiasm and urge the party faithful to vote.  A special focus of the effort is the urban African-American community.

In that regard, the Murphy campaign brought in former President Barack Obama in the hope that he would increase the African-American turnout.  Barack Obama is a highly respected personage throughout America, Black and White.  He was an effective and productive president who deserves the admiration.

But admired figures do not generate grassroots enthusiasm in elections. Political rock stars do.

Barack Obama is a figure of admiration for the history books. He is not a political rock star who will generate grassroots enthusiasm and increased turnout at the polls.

The leading national African-American Democratic political rock star is former Georgia House of Representatives member Stacey Abrams.  Stacey is a political rock star among white Democrats as well.   She is a passionate progressive activist without the alienating socialism of an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  She is the leading symbol of resistance to the national Republican effort to change state laws to suppress the African-American vote.

She is presently campaigning for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and generating overflow enthusiasm and crowds. She could easily do the same for Phil Murphy in New Jersey.  And if Jack Ciattarelli and other leading New Jersey Republicans attack her, it will only further increase Democratic African-American turnout.

The passage of national voting rights legislation to abrogate discriminatory new state voting rights laws is now the leading national political priority of Black America. After not one single Republican US Senator, not even Mitt Romney, stepped forward last week to kill the filibuster precluding the enactment of such legislation, the stench of Trumpian racism permeates the Republican Party as never before.  Nobody can more effectively deliver this message than Stacey Abrams.

Will the Murphy campaign invite Stacey Abrams to New Jersey to campaign for the incumbent Governor?  Failure to do so would be tantamount to campaign malpractice.

Stay tuned.

Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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