Gov. Phil Murphy held a political rally at Weequahic Park in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday, Oct. 23, with special guest former President of the United States Barack Obama.
For the first time in the state’s history, New Jersey is offering early voting for the gubernatorial election, starting Oct. 23 and running through election day on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
The rally attempted to garner support from voters who are undecided in the election. As of now, opponent Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli is trailing behind Murphy by 6% in a poll conducted by Emerson College and PIX11 News. The poll also showed that 7% of voters are undecided.
During the rally, Ras Baraka, the mayor of Newark, came onstage to emphasize that New Jersey must move forward, not regress.
“[Ciattarelli] wants to make our communities as lame as he is,” Baraka said. “Whatever we do, we can’t go back. When they ask you tonight at the dinner table, you say we can’t go back to Jack.”
Many guest speakers made an appearance at the event, including Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, actor and former White House staff member Kal Penn and Chairman of East Orange and Essex County LeRoy Jones.
Murphy came onstage to acknowledge the struggle his supporters faced during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“For far too long, we underachieved,” Murphy said. “We let our people down. We didn’t make our pension payments, we stopped funding Planned Parenthood. We didn’t expand preschools. We didn’t pay our bills.”
Murphy said those days are over and New Jersey is facing a new turning point in the history of the state.
“It is sunrise in New Jersey,” Murphy said.
After his speech, Murphy introduced Obama to the crowd, who received a standing ovation as soon as he stepped foot on the stage. Signs waved, people cheered and many smiled as he stepped forward to the microphone, waving to the crowd of supporters.
Obama reaffirmed to the crowd the hard work he has seen Murphy put into his role as governor.
“[Murphy] knows that when you’re successful, part of the deal is that you give back and help other people become successful,” Obama said. “That’s the American way.”
Obama further elaborated on how this election is going to affect the future of the younger generation, saying we can make New Jersey and America work by making the right choices. Much like Baraka, Obama stated the importance of progressing, not regressing.
“We are going to move forward with people like Phil leading the way,” Obama said.
The former president ended his speech by urging supporters to vote Democrat up and down the ballot.
As Obama waved to the crowd and walked offstage, the audience got up to give a round of applause for the former president and current governor.