Murphy has high praise for Baraka, a potential successor

Governor says he won’t back a candidate — but he gives strong endorsement of Newark mayor’s efforts in city

Gov. Phil Murphy has said he has no plans to support a particular person to be his successor, but he didn’t hold back when asked about Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who is starting to show signs he may jump into the race.

“As has been my habit, I won’t speculate on the governor’s race, but I don’t need to speculate on what kind of a mayor this guy’s been — he’s been extraordinary,” Murphy said.

The governor, speaking after the groundbreaking of the Mulberry Commons Pedestrian Bridge on Tuesday afternoon in Newark, said the event shows that Baraka is literally and figuratively a bridge-builder.

“This is our biggest community,” Murphy said. “He’s led it brilliantly from moment one. And today is a great example of that. He’s a bridge-builder. He’s a great partner for us.”

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is the only announced candidate for the Democratic nomination. Baraka, who recently held a fundraiser, may be next. Many feel U.S. Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.) may also jump in.

Without saying it directly, Murphy said Baraka’s efforts in Newark would be strong campaign talking points.

“You look at the progress Newark has made under his leadership, it’s undeniable,” he said.

And it’s not just economic development and job creation, Murphy said. He pointed to how Baraka has impacted the neighborhoods of Newark — and community spirit.

“The confidence that little kids here have in this great city — how proud people are to come from here,” Murphy said. “Can’t say enough good things.”