Delegates at the New Jersey Constitutional Convention of 1947 established that residents would elect their state officials in an off year. The reason? They wanted voters to weigh in on state issues without being influenced by events around the nation.
Little did they know, they were setting up the state and the state’s business community to benefit greatly 75 years later – because of events around the nation.
Gov. Phil Murphy survived Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli in a closer-than-both-sides-figured result that many feel got that way because of a repudiation of President Joe Biden’s first year in office and other Democratic initiatives (among a number of reasons).
While the results this week (including the victories for Republicans in Virginia) have many blue-leaning states rethinking their campaigns and their relationships with voters, New Jersey may benefit on the business front by being a year out front.
Business likes stability. And New Jersey, having locked in Murphy for four more years, suddenly has more than nearly any state in the country.
ROI-NJ spoke with a handful of business, economic development and government leaders and political scientists this week – before and after the election. Because of the timeline, all spoke on the condition of anonymity because some were speaking before the election was called.
Here are six reasons why they feel Murphy’s re-election will be good for the business community:
1. New Jersey is stable
Murphy not only was re-elected, but he was re-elected a year before others could be. It’s hard to overstate the value that would bring to a company looking to move – especially when the mid-terms figure to be tumultuous across the country.
“Can you imagine being a business owner and thinking about moving to Georgia or Texas?” one person said. “And that’s before the mid-terms, which are going to be wild.”
The evidence already is coming in. On Wednesday, shortly after the race was called for Murphy, Motion Pictures Association of America Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin offered his congratulations.
“On behalf of our member studios, we look forward to continuing to work with him and his administration to grow New Jersey’s film, television and streaming production industry,” he said in a statement that most industries don’t make, regardless of the winning side.
It goes to show that …
2. New Jersey is on a roll with the business community
“Companies can be copycats,” one insider said. “When they see companies of this caliber heading to New Jersey, they certainly are asking themselves, ‘Maybe we should take a look there?’ Success breeds success.”
And not just in the U.S.
A New Jersey delegation is heading to Israel later this month – perhaps the only state to do so in 2021. The international pipeline to the state is continuing to grow.
All this is just adding to what is here, because ….
3. Murphy has a lot of areas to build on
It’s not just the suddenly surging film/TV/streaming sector. There’s a lot of excitement around the offshore wind and the wind port – and all the ancillary businesses and jobs that will come with it.
“When was the last time we were out front on a sector,” one insider said. “We are on this one.”
The same can be said for sports betting and e-gaming. Murphy knows he needs to grow these sectors and more. Especially areas that fit his innovation economy theme.
“Getting Fiserv to come here was great,” one insider said. “But what the governor really wants to do is help create the next Fiserv.
“Expect to see a lot of effort going into the innovation economy with things such as the Evergreen Fund leading the way.”
And expect it to be a partnership with business because …
4. Murphy needs the business community
Many business leaders feel the governor pushed his progressive agenda over business in his first term.
To be fair, it may be hard to make such a definitive statement, after all, the pandemic changed everything, but it’s easy to see that Murphy will need business more in his second term.
You can point to his narrow victory, but there’s another reason.
“He’s going to need revenue,” one insider said. “As it turns out, the state got a financial boost from the pandemic, but that’s over. If he wants to pay for those policies going forward, he’s going to need money to do so.”
To do that, Murphy may need to prove …
5. He can be on the business side of taxes
He may actually lower them. That’s right, lower them, one insider said. When Murphy gave the no-tax-increase pledge during the campaign, many felt it was just a campaign promise.
Some now feel he may go a step farther.
“Not as much as Ciattarelli would have, but it’s easy to see him lowering the CBT a few percentage points,” one insider said. “It would be the ultimate in politics. He could take credit for lowering a tax he raised.”
That’s possible because …
6. Timing is everything in politics
New Jersey is ready to attract businesses today. How many other states can say that?
Compare the state to Virginia, the only other state to elect a governor this week. The victory of Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin over former governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, is more than just a warning sign that states can flip. It’s a reminder that elections reset timelines.
Youngkin has won, but he won’t take office until January – and figure he’ll need time to get new economic incentives put in place. (Remember how long it took for Murphy to get his economic plan passed and set up?)
Yes, Virginia always is ranked highly for business friendliness. But in 2022, it may not rank high in certainty. The same scenario potentially holds true for many other states. And even New York City, where newly elected Mayor Eric Adams has promised to make the Big Apple the country’s friendliest city for business in the country. That won’t happen overnight.
New Jersey – thanks to accident and unintentional foresight in 1947 – is uniquely positioned to be a business leader in 2022 if it takes advantage of its one-year head start.