Tammy Murphy hires veteran operative at pivotal moment in New Jersey's Senate primary

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New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy has tapped a longtime Democratic operative to be her campaign manager to guide her bid to replace Sen. Bob Menendez.

The hiring of Maggie Moran comes after Murphy’s prior campaign manager, Max Glass, left after only a few weeks on the job. When Glass departed, Murphy’s top rival for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Andy Kim, was ahead of Murphy in public polling, and Murphy lost the state’s first Democratic county convention to Kim by a surprisingly wide margin.

“I am thrilled to welcome Maggie to our team of highly-skilled and battle-tested experts,” Murphy said in a statement. “I have worked with Maggie before and know that she brings a wealth of experience in helping elect Democrats up and down the ballot and her knowledge of New Jersey’s political landscape is unmatched.”

The announcement comes at a pivotal moment in Murphy’s fight against Kim to replace Menendez, who is under indictment on corruption charges. Kim won the state’s first five Democratic conventions that were conducted via secret ballot — which encompassed around 14 percent of the Democratic electorate. But Murphy just landed a big win at the Bergen County Democratic convention Monday, where she won the party endorsement there by over 27 points in a secret ballot vote. Paul Juliano, the influential Democratic party chair there who has a $280,000 state job with Gov. Phil Murphy’s backing, was a prominent Murphy backer.

Despite Kim’s loss in Bergen County, which makes up 10 percent of the Democratic electorate, Kim still appears to have momentum in the race. A new Monmouth University survey released Wednesday showed Kim with higher favorable ratings than Murphy, although the first lady has higher name recognition.

Moran worked at Kivvit, a public relations firm, from 2015 to 2022, according to her LinkedIn page. She’s managed several statewide Democratic campaigns, including as Al Gore’s New Jersey state director in 2000 and leading former Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s 2002 election and Gov. Jon Corzine’s reelection bid in 2009. More recently she was campaign manager for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 reelection.

Moran declined to do crisis communications for Cuomo as his reputation plummeted due to sexual harassment accusations, according to a July 2021 deposition, even as the governor offered her firm $100,000 a month. The New York Post reported in 2021 that she was included in email chains designed to discredit women who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, although she said she never responded to them.

“I can not control being included in an email,” Moran told The Post at the time. “In fact, I repeatedly asked to be removed from emails regarding the sexual assault allegations detailed in the Attorney General’s report and never engaged in those communications. When asked to join calls regarding allegations of sexual assault, I chose not to participate in them — every time.”