TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Former Wall Street executive Phil Murphy succeeded Chris Christie as governor on Tuesday, swearing his oath on the Bible President John F. Kennedy used in 1961 while promising to transform the state into a liberal beacon that fights back against President Donald Trump.
Murphy, 60, succeeds Christie after two terms, returning full control of state government to Democrats. While Christie, a Republican, is a friend and ally of Trump’s, Murphy built his first run for elected office around undoing the Trump administration’s efforts on health care, immigration and taxes.
“We will resist every move from President Trump and a misguided Republican Congress,” Murphy said in his roughly-half-hour-long inaugural address before being interrupted by applause.
Hinting at Trump’s reported vulgar comments last week about immigration, Murphy called the country a “beacon of light” for immigrants including those from Haiti and Africa.
“We will resist any attempt to define who is and who isn’t a real American,” he said, before later praising the diversity of his Cabinet officials, including the state’s first Sikh-American attorney general.
“America strikes back,” he said.
Trump called Murphy and new Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday to congratulate them. The White House said that Trump and Murphy agreed to work together and to seek improvements to the country’s infrastructure.
Working with Washington on a $13 billion project to build new rail tunnels under the Hudson River needed to alleviate problems throughout the Northeast Corridor will be an early test of Murphy’s ability to work with the Trump administration while he criticizes Trump on other fronts.
A federal transportation official said last month that an earlier agreement with President Barack Obama’s administration for the federal government to pay for half of the project is “non-existent.”
Murphy’s wife, Tammy Murphy, and their four children joined him on stage as he was sworn in by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Murphy’s running mate, former Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, was sworn in as lieutenant governor. She replaces Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Republican whom Murphy defeated last November.
A salute of cannons then went off outside the ceremony at the War Memorial in Trenton, and Murphy went down a line of officials shaking hands. He hugged Christie and later praised his work addressing the opioid crisis and his role as a father.
Murphy thanked Christie for more than two decades of public service to the state. Christie served as the U.S. attorney in New Jersey before he ran for governor.
Murphy’s inaugural address was unabashedly liberal, calling for the wealthy to pay higher taxes, more funding for Planned Parenthood and a $15 minimum hourly wage. He said his vision for a “stronger and fairer” New Jersey includes criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization.
“We can once again be the state that leads the nation in progressive policies and puts common sense and our residents first in line,” Murphy said.
Republican legislators, who are in the minority, said they would work with Murphy but resist new taxes and unaffordable spending.
“He is a good person, but we will differ on how to protect taxpayers,” Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said.
The new governor earned his fortune, which he used to help win the Democratic nomination last year, as an executive at Goldman Sachs. The state’s last Democratic governor, Jon Corzine, who Christie ousted in 2009, also was an executive at Goldman Sachs.
Murphy, who like Kennedy grew up in Massachusetts, also served several years under the Obama administration as ambassador to Germany.
He takes over from a larger-than-life governor who oversaw the state as its economy rebounded but who also saw his popularity plunge after a failed presidential run and the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal. A former ally pleaded guilty and two former aides were convicted in the political revenge plot, which targeted a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse his second gubernatorial bid.
“Thank you to all the people of New Jersey for the honor of being your Governor for the last eight years,” Christie wrote on Twitter after the inauguration. “It was a true privilege.”
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