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In New Jersey Governor’s Race, Money Can Take a Circuitous Route

Phill Murphy -Sara Medina del Castillo


Newark. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Sheila McPherson is listed as a homemaker on an Internal Revenue Service report from the Democratic Governors Association. This year, Ms. McPherson donated $80,000 to the association, the first time, records show, that she gave to the national group. She also sent $10,000 to the New Jersey Democratic Committee.

Mrs. McPherson, who lists her residence in Rutherford, N.J., is married to Kenneth McPherson, a lawyer at a powerful firm, Waters, McPherson, McNeill.

Had her donations gone directly to Philip D. Murphy, the Democratic candidate for governor in New Jersey, it would have prevented her husband’s firm from getting any state contracts under a potential Murphy administration, the result of New Jersey’s strict pay-to-play laws. She also would have been able to give only $4,300 to Mr. Murphy directly.

Had she donated to any of the officials in counties where her husband’s firm has contracts, which total about $630,000, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, they too would have come under scrutiny for potential pay-to-play violations.

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“Another”Goldman Veteran on Fast Track in New Jersey Governor’s Race

Tax and Spend Democrat Phil Murphy for Governor

More than a year before New Jerseyans choose a replacement for Republican Governor Chris Christie, former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Philip D. Murphy has lost a major competitor for the Democratic candidacy.

Murphy, 59, who most recently was U.S. ambassador to Germany, secured the endorsement of Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat who announced Thursday that he won’t run for the state’s highest office. On Sept. 28, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a 39-year-old former investment banker, said that he, too, won’t run, and threw his support behind Murphy.

“The party is coalescing around Phil,” Sweeney said in a Thursday interview. “As a Democrat, I’m going to support Phil Murphy.”

Murphy’s rise parallels that of Jon S. Corzine, 69, the Democrat and onetime Goldman co-chairman whom Murphy has called a friend. Corzine, a multimillionaire who grew up on a farm in Illinois, was elected governor in 2005, declaring in his inaugural address, “Hold me accountable.”

He was defeated for a second term by Christie, 54, who ran on a promise to restore stability as New Jersey plunged into economic recession. Term limits prevent Christie from running for a third term in 2017. He abandoned his presidential campaign in February, became a surrogate and adviser to nominee Donald J. Trump and reached a new low in recent polls as voters disapproved of his handling of state finances.