Democratic insiders in New Jersey are discussing the possibility of Tammy Murphy, the state’s first lady, running for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Robert Menendez. If Menendez were to resign, Governor Phil Murphy could appoint his wife as his successor until the term expires in January 2025. Tammy Murphy, a well-known presence in the state and a top Democratic fundraiser, would likely face competition from other candidates, including Congressman Andy Kim. While she has never run for office before, Tammy Murphy has developed a policy portfolio during her husband’s time as governor, including spearheading efforts to reduce infant mortality in New Jersey. However, she does have potential political liabilities, including criticism of her involvement with a soccer team and allegations of denying a State Trooper the ability to pump breast milk.
The discussions around Tammy Murphy potentially running for the Senate seat held by Robert Menendez have intensified as it becomes less likely that Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill will pursue the seat and instead focus on running for governor in 2025. If Tammy Murphy were to run, she would have a strong chance of becoming the first woman to represent New Jersey in the Senate. Democratic insiders view her as a formidable candidate who can connect with communities and has a strong fundraising ability. However, her involvement with a soccer team that faced criticism for poor living and practice conditions, as well as being named in an alleged immigration scheme, and allegations of denying a State Trooper the ability to pump breast milk, could pose as political liabilities.
Tammy Murphy’s potential candidacy is seen as an ironic twist in the Menendez saga, as he helped elevate his son to the House of Representatives last year despite facing accusations of doing favors for cash and gold bars. Governor Phil Murphy, if given the opportunity, could appoint his wife to the Senate seat, further fuelling the controversy surrounding Menendez. While Tammy Murphy has not made a decision yet, her high name recognition and policy efforts during her husband’s time as governor could work in her favor. However, criticisms of her involvement in controversies and allegations of nepotism may be used against her by political opponents.