Murphy to chair Democratic governors group in 2020, job that could pull him away from N.J.

Gov. Phil Murphy has been steadfast in his statements that he has no plans to seek higher office.

Those denials apparently do not mean Murphy will not take on national assignments.

On Saturday night in New Orleans, Murphy was named the Democratic Governors Association’s vice chairman for 2019 at the group’s annual meeting. He also was named chair-elect for 2020.

The announcement means three things:

  1. Murphy almost certainly will not be a candidate for president in 2020;
  2. Murphy will be on the road a lot during that year, a year before he presumably runs for re-election;
  3. Murphy will be doing a job that other politicians, most notably former Gov. Chris Christie, have used as a way to build a national network.

“I’m honored to take on this new role with my fellow Democratic governors,” Murphy said in a statement. “We’re showing in New Jersey how Democratic leadership can bring real change on the state level, despite the mistaken priorities of Washington, D.C.”

The Democratic Governors Association was established to raise money and support its gubernatorial candidates. Eleven states will have gubernatorial elections in 2020.

It remains to be seen how Murphy will handle the role. Christie, who was eyeing national office, spent 148 days out of state in 2014 — which was just one of the reasons his approval ratings dropped during his second term.