Ex-Goldman Executive Airs New Jersey's Middle-Class Woes During Debate

  • Philip Murphy a possible Democratic candidate for governor
  • Commercial by his tax-exempt group cites lagging economy

Philip Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive considering a run for New Jersey governor, aired the state’s economic malaise to viewers of Tuesday night’s televised Democratic presidential debate.

CNN viewers saw a commercial drawing attention to the dearth of jobs that Murphy, 58, says is weakening the economy. The air time was chosen, he said, to appeal to a wide Democratic audience, and not to further any personal ambition.

A onetime national finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, Murphy was nominated in 2009 by President Barack Obama as ambassador to Germany, a post he held until 2013. Last month, he started New Way for New Jersey, a tax-exempt political group with a “multi-million dollar” television and print campaign on building the middle class.

“This is not and cannot be about anybody’s candidacy,” Murphy said by telephone. “If you want to drive a middle-class first agenda, you’re going to have a lot of them watching the national debate.”

A 30-second ad on the group’s website features Murphy’s voice over video of Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “These guys have it wrong,” Murphy says. “Serving the powerful and connected helps them, not us.” He describes himself as a son of the middle class who “made a successful career understanding how economies grow and create jobs.”

Murphy, a 23-year Goldman veteran, retired in 2006 as a senior director, according to a biography issued by the White House press office. A Boston native, he lives in Red Bank.

Last year, he founded a think tank, New Start New Jersey, to study tax credits, earned sick leave and a higher minimum wage. The newer organization, he said, is political, though it will be involved in issues rather than campaigns.

Manufacturing’s decline has undermined residents and their ability to fuel the economy, Murphy said at New Start New Jersey forums last year. He said today that he hasn’t made up his mind about a run for governor.

New Jersey’s next election for governor is in 2017. Christie is barred by state law from seeking a third consecutive term.