As the smoke clears after a long battle, New Jersey will have a new governor on January 16, 2018. Yesterday, Phil Murphy defeated Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno in a race to succeed Governor Chris Christie as New Jersey’s 56th governor. Winning the race by 13 percentage points, Murphy will take office with large majorities in both the senate and the assembly. Having campaigned on a progressive platform, the new administration is likely to work quickly with members in the legislature to implement its agenda.
The next few months will be filled with the excitement of the transition: the Governor-elect putting together a transition team, selecting key positions within the front office, and working to identify individuals to fill the 15 cabinet-level or principal departments in the state’s executive branch.
Having spent years in Trenton as part of two executive branch agencies, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the importance of a proactive government affairs strategy is often overlooked. Too many times, I sat in meetings with organizations or businesses who were fighting from behind. Had they simply paid attention while the legislature passed a law, or an executive branch agency promulgated a rule, that materially impacted their business, they may have been able to influence the process. Whether because of a lack of knowledge, or a limited understanding of the process, they would find themselves in a compromised position.
While everyone likes certainty, smart organizations and businesses find opportunity in change. New leadership leads to new policy. Whether the issue is clean energy, the legalization of marijuana, or the raising of the state’s minimum wage, it is important to have a say in the conversation.
Chris J. Murphy is a partner in the governmental affairs group at Murphy Partners LLP, a boutique law firm located in Newark, New Jersey. He can be reached at (973) 723-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.