PLEASANTVILLE – Democrat gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy told voters he is the man to right the wrongs of the current administration during three stops Monday in Atlantic County.

“I just want to serve,” Murphy, 59, said Feb. 27 before almost 300 people gathered at the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church’s WinSan Center in Pleasantville.

Earlier in the day, Murphy spoke in Atlantic City in the afternoon. He also met with about 50 people assembled inside a Linwood home during the early evening hours before traveling to Pleasantville.

His evening's hour-long speech and the following question-and-answer session were broadcast live on the Internet to more than 2,100 viewers.

“People are really upset,” he said, while moving around a black chair that he never sat in. “They are afraid. They are frustrated.”

And the state’s problems arose as Gov. Chris Christie went from being the most popular leader to becoming the least liked during his 7.25 years in office.

The state and its residents have struggled during the past three years, Murphy said.

Household income is “50th out of 50 states,” Murphy said.

The hardest hit are the 45- to 65-year-olds, who have lost casino jobs or have seen their employment move out of state.

“If we don’t get the economy right, we don’t get New Jersey right,” he said. “We do both.”

Murphy spoke before an audience that was equal parts black and white, old and young and male and female. They applauded frequently.

“Equal pay for equal work,” he said, adding that women currently receive 80 percent of the pay that men do for the same jobs. African-Americans earn 60 percent while Latinos are less than 50 percent.

“It’s time for a $15 minimum wage,” he said to applause.

However, Murphy said the casino industry is crumbling, Atlantic County housing foreclosures lead the nation, and unemployment is high.

“We lead the nation,” he said of the number of high school and college seniors leaving the state.

“They are leaving,” he said. “I want to go back to the state we used to be.”

His vision is to restore New Jersey as a leader in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“We were a Silicon Valley before there was a Silicon Valley,” he said.

He also wants to restore jobs, sign green safety bills, accept climate change as a reality, fulfill education promises for all, and to treat each other with respect.

But the times are difficult, he said.

Only two elections for governor are occurring this year – New Jersey and Virginia. In 2018, 36 governors and 23 senators are up for election.

Only 16 states have Democratic governors, he said.

“But this is the first election under the president who shall not be named” he said, as he accepted the challenge of running for governor.

Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, announced his candidacy for governor on May 16, 2016.

Murphy retired from Goldman Sachs in 2006, following a 23-year career. He was the national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2006-'09.

However, he is part of a crowded field of 15 candidates entered in the June 6 gubernatorial primary, including Democrat Raymond Lesniak, a state senator and former chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Committee.

Lt. Gov. Kimberly Ann Guadagno heads up the Republican field of five entrants in the primary.

Murphy lives in Monmouth County with his wife, Tammy, and three sons and one daughter.

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Contact R.J. Liberatore Jr. at rj.liberatore@catamaranmedia.com