TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Former Wall Street executive Phil Murphy replaced Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor Tuesday, taking the oath on the same Bible that President John F. Kennedy was sworn in on as he promised to take an aggressive approach against President Donald Trump.
Murphy, 60, succeeds Christie after two terms, returning full control of state government to Democrats. While Christie was a friend and ally, Murphy built his campaign — 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 inaugural address.
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.
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 him on other fronts.
A federal transportation official said last month that an earlier agreement with the Obama administration for the federal government to pay for half of the project is “non-existent.”
Murphy’s wife, Tammy, 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.
A salute of cannons then went off outside of the ceremony at the grand 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.
He thanked him for over 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 wage. He said that his vision for a “stronger and fairer” New Jersey includes criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization.
The new governor earned his fortune, which he used to help win the Democratic nomination last year, as an executive at Goldman Sachs. The last Democratic governor, Jon Corzine, who Christie ousted in 2009, was also 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.
“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.”
Murphy inherits a state with growing pension obligations and nearly perennial budget woes. He’s said he would bring in new leadership at New Jersey Transit, the state’s beleaguered commuter rail and bus agency, and has said the state faces a “fiscal crisis.”
He also allies himself with unions and says he will increase payments into the state pension system and school aid.
An inaugural ball Tuesday night was to be held under a tent at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
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