Democrat To Focus On EconomyBy John BurtonMIDDLETOWN – It’s about a year-and-a-half away before New Jersey residents cast a vote for their next governor and probably quite a while before voters start thinking seriously about that election. But it isn’t too early to campaign and announce one’s candidacy, believes Monmouth County’s own Philip D. Murphy, who has thrown his hat into that ring.Businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Germany, Murphy, 58, a Middletown resident, and Democrat, who at the time of his announcement last week was the first declared Democratic candidate for the 2017 gubernatorial contest, a race to determine who will succeed two-term Republican Chris Christie.Despite the fact that the race is a long way away–and probably most people, if they’re thinking about politics at all, have their attention fixed on the presidential race escapades—Murphy and his family decided it was the opportune time to break out of the starting gate.“If we can in a small way get to a better debate, get the state back on its feet sooner rather than later,” Murphy said in an interview with The Two River Times this week about his announcement, “I want to be part of that.”Murphy has had a successful career in business, having worked for about 20 years for Goldman Sachs multinational investment banking firm, holding a number of positions with the company. Before ending his full-time career with the company’s management in 2003, Murphy headed up the company’s Frankfurt, Germany, operations as well as other high-placed spots level positions. He has also been active on a number of philanthropic and civic fronts, establishing with his wife, Tammy, a teen helpline called 2nd Floor, for 180 Turning Lives Around, an organization that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence and their families, and working with other charitable organizations over the years; Murphy had been for a period the organization’s board president. He has also co-chaired Renewing Our Schools, Securing Our Future, a national task force studying public education; and Richard Codey, while serving as acting governor in 2005, selected Murphy to head up a task force looking at public service pensions and health benefits.Murphy hasn’t held elected office but has dabbled in national politics. He served as national finance chair for the Democratic National Committee under then-chairman Howard Dean (who, Murphy said, he considers a friend) from 2006 to 2009. According to his bio provided by the campaign, Murphy raised in the neighborhood of $300 million over that period for the national political party.Following his tenure with the DNC, President Barack Obama nominated Murphy to be the Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, and with the U.S. Senate’s approval, Murphy served in that posting from 2009 until 2013.Going forward with the campaign Murphy said, “The economy is ‘job one’ in this state.”He pointed out New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains high compared to the rest of the region (and higher as the national percentage); employment hasn’t recouped yet from 2007, prior to the “Great Recession”; New Jersey has one of the highest percentage of long term unemployed (more than six months) of any state; and, Murphy said, we lead the nation in “zombie foreclosures”—where homeowners have walked away from their properties.“Those are just the facts. I wish they weren’t but they are,” he said.With a background in the private sector, in international economies, of “What works, what doesn’t,” as well as an appreciation for the public sector’s ability, Murphy maintained he has the right stuff to create jobs and right the New Jersey ship after eight years of Christie.The next governor, Murphy is convinced, needs to be “prepared to make decisions based upon what’s best for the next generation,” as opposed to “what’s best for his or her next election.”“Too many, it seems on both sides of the aisle, just kick the can down the road, borrowing from our kids’ future to make up for the lack of discipline today,” he added. “We need a leader who says enough, stop, we’re not doing that anymore.”Murphy is the youngest of four kids, growing up in a working class family outside of Boston, Massachusetts. His family were loyal Democrats, where John and Robert Kennedy were revered. Those were his roots, the commitment to hard work and the belief that the Democratic Party is dedicated to helping all, especially the middle class improve their lives, which they believe benefits the whole country, Murphy maintained. “No matter how much success I’ve had in the private and public sector,” he said, “nothing has taken me off of that set.“That’s where I started and that’s where I remain.”The campaign is just getting under way but Murphy has begun the process of reaching out, attending events, working the phones to raise money and heighten his visibility.With no incumbent, before too much longer he’ll undoubtedly have announced competition for the party’s nomination. Other names purportedly considering testing the political waters are political warhorses state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, from Gloucester County; Union County’s Senator Raymond Lesniak (whose announcement he wouldn’t be running for re-election to the Senate is seen as precipitating his run for the governor’s office) and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, from Middlesex County. Also considering joining the fray on the Democratic side is Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who had also previously worked for Goldman Sachs.On the GOP side, Evesham Township Mayor Randy Brown, in Burlington County, has expressed an interest in running, while Ocean County businessman Joseph Rudy Rullo has begun campaigning, establishing a Facebook page. And there is incumbent Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, apparently considering a bid for her boss’s job, as is state Senator Tom Kean Jr., who represents the 21st Legislative District in Morris County and is the son of Gov. Tom Kean.
By BETH HARRISAP Racing WriterARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ Turns out the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap wasn’t much of a challenge for prohibitive favorite Shared Belief.The 5-year-old dark bay gelding collared pacesetter Moreno on the turn for home and went on to win by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday, improving to 10-1 in his career.Shared Belief ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.67 and paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 1-5 favorite of 26,134 fans.Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith earned a record third consecutive Big `Cap victory, having won the previous two years aboard Game On Dude. He had Shared Belief in the middle of the pack much of the way before they went four horses wide to take the lead into the stretch.“Not to take anything away from the competition, but I geared him down a few times and he still won like that,” Smith said. “I was watching the (infield) TV from the quarter-pole to the wire and I feel bad to say this, but I was trying to not win by so far. As they say, don’t squeeze a lemon if you don’t have to.”Shared Belief’s only blemish is a loss in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic after a messy start last fall at Santa Anita. He finished fourth, losing by 3 3/4 lengths. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer marvels at his gelding’s consistency.“Horses get ups and downs and he just stays the same and he does whatever we ask him to do,” he said. “He seems very happy and enthusiastic about it.”Moreno returned $4.80 and $4.20 in his first start since getting slammed hard out of the starting gate in the BC Classic, while Catch a Flight was another head back in third and paid $4.20 to show. Hard Aces was fourth and Bronzo fifth.Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, aboard Catch a Flight, fell beyond the finish line.“He just tripped with me,” Stevens said. “He started to go down head-first and he caught himself. When he did, it shot me straight up in the air. I tried to tuck and I landed on my back. It knocked the wind out of me. I’m OK.”Co-owned by sports talk host Jim Rome, Shared Belief was coming off a victory over reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome in the San Antonio Invitational exactly a month ago. The gelding is based in the San Francisco Bay area, so Rome doesn’t see him often.“It’s like he shows up every single time _ he always runs big, is always tough and just has a lot of grit, a lot of heart,” Rome said. “He never disappoints.”Hollendorfer earned his second Big `Cap win, and first since 2008. He is another of the gelding’s co-owners.“I’m just so grateful to have a horse like this,” he said. “I’m very pleased to have this horse and hope that we can keep him racing well like he has been.”Crimson Giant, a 6-year-old gelding, finished last in the 13-horse field in his virtually unheard of 67th career start. He has just one win to his credit.There was $201,669 bet to place on Shared Belief.The victory, worth $600,000, increased Shared Belief’s career earnings to $2,932,200. –30–