THE GARDEN STATE’S BELLWETHER CONGRESSIONAL SHOWDOWN & GOV. MURPHY’S RESPONSE TO MIGRATION CRISIS

The crucial midterm elections are just days away and one key race that could determine the balance of power in Washington, DC is across the river in New Jersey’s Seventh Congressional District.  Tom Kean Jr., a former Republican state senator is facing off against incumbent Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski in a rematch of their 2020 contest.  State of Affairs host Steve Adubato recently spoke with Malinowski about the election, and he also had an exclusive interview with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy about some of the most pressing issues facing the Garden State and the nation.  Adubato joins us tonight to discuss his sit-down with the governor and the critical congressional race.

Aired on October 20, 2022

TRANSCRIPT

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

WE'RE JUST DAYS AWAY FROM THE CRUCIAL MIDTERM ELECTIONS IN ONE KEY RACE THAT COULD VERY WELL DETERMINE THE BALANCE OF POWER IN WASHINGTON IS RIGHT ACROSS THE RIVER IN NEW JERSEY'S SEVENTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.

TOM KEAN JR. IS FACING OFF AGAINST INCUMBENT TOM MALINOWSKI IN A REMATCH OF THEIR 2020 CONTEST.

STEED ADUBATO RECENTLY SPOKE WITH MALINOWSKI ABOUT THAT ELECTION.

HE ALSO HAD AN EXCLUSIVE HALF HOUR CONVERSATION WITH NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY ABOUT SOME.

MOST PRESSING ISSUES FACING THE GARDEN STATE.

HE JOINS US TO DISCUSS THE GOVERNOR'S INTERVIEW AND THAT CRITICAL CONGRESSIONAL RACE.

STEVE, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

WE DEFINITELY WANT TO GET TO THE CRITICALLY IMPORTANT RACE, AND WE WILL.

BUT FIRST LET'S TALK ABOUT THE EXCLUSIVE HALF HOUR WITH THE GOVERNOR.

IN 20 SECONDS OR LESS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE MAJOR HEADLINE OF THAT CONVERSATION?

THE GOVERNOR'S PROUD OF HIMSELF, PROUD OF THE RECORD, PROUD OF WHAT HE BELIEVES HE BE THE LEGISLATURE, THE DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE ARE GOING ON PROPERTY TAXES.

HE DIDN'T APOLOGIZE FOR ANY MISTAKES ANYONE MAY HAVE PERCEIVED HE MADE DURING COVID --

PROUD, AND NO APOLOGIES, THAT'S THE HEADLINE.

RAF, YOU'RE ALWAYS VERY GOOD AT GETTING ME TO THE POINT.

NO APOLOGIES, YOU'RE RIGHT.

LISTEN, YOU COVERED A LOT OF TERRITORY IN THAT INTERVIEW.

TALKED ABOUT A LOT OF ISSUES WE WON'T BE ABLE TO GET TO BECAUSE OF THE CONSTRAINTS OF TIME, SO LET ME GET TO A COUPLE OF THEM.

YOU STARTED OFF, EARLY IN THE INTERVIEW YOU ASK HIM ABOUT HIS RELATIVELY NARROW RE-ELECTION VICTORY OVER THE REPUBLICAN LAST YEAR.

WHY IT ENDED UP BEING SO CLOSE WHEN NEW JERSEY IS SUCH A HEAVY DEMOCRATIC STATE.

WHAT WAS HIS RESPONSE?

NO APOLOGIES.

NO, SERIOUSLY, RAF, HE JUST SAID, LISTEN, TOUGH TIMES, COVID.

PEOPLE ARE FRUSTRATED WITH.GOV HE'S IN OFFICE.

HE'S THE INCUMBENT.

HE CATCHES THE BRUNT OF IT.

HE FEELS WHETHER IT WAS 1,000 VOTES, 10,000 VOTES, 100,000 VOTES, HE BELIEVES A VICTORY IS A VICTORY.

HE'S CONFIDENT ABOUT HIMSELF NOT JUST IN THE STATE BUT POTENTIALLY SOMETHING BIGGER THAN THAT.

YEAH, YOU TALKED ABOUT HIM, AND HE DODGED IT.

ONE OF THE THINGS HE SAID IN RESPONSE TO THAT QUESTION FROM YOU, PERHAPS -- HE WAS ALWAYS FOCUSED ON AFFORDABILITY, BUT MAYBE IT DIDN'T GET THROUGH TO MANY VOTERS, SO HE'S REDOUBLING HIS EFFORTS TO MAKE SURE NEW JERSEY IS AFFORDABLE NOW IN HIS SECOND TERM.

GIVE US QUICKLY SOME OF THE THINGS HE'S GOING TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

THE BIGGEST ONE IS THE ANCHOR PROPERTY TAX PROGRAM, WHERE PROPERTY TAX REBATES ARE PROVIDED BY THE STATE TO NOT JUST HOMEOWNERS AT A CERTAIN LEVEL OF INCOME, CAN'T BE ABOVE IT, BUT ALSO RENTERS, WHICH IS A SIGNIFICANT INITIATIVE.

THE FACT IS, IN MANY PEOPLE'S MINDS, EVERY -- YOU LOOK AT, THE MAJORITY OF NEW JERSEYANS BELIEVE THE STATE IS LESS AND LESS AFFORDABLE.

POST COVID, INFLATION, LESS AFFORDABLE.

HIGH INCOME TAX.

AFFORDABILITY.

THE GOVERNOR'S DOING CERTAIN THINGS BUT THE REALITY IS A LOFT PEOPLE BELIEVE THE STATE IS JUST NOT AFFORDABLE.

YOU ALSO SPOKE TO HIM ABOUT THE CRISIS ON OUR SOUTHERN BOARD WE ARE 2 MILLION UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS CROSSING INTO THIS COUNTRY IN THIS FISCAL YEAR ALONE.

SPECIFICALLY YOU ASKED HIM ABOUT THE UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS THAT TEXAS GOVERNOR ABBOTT AND FLORIDA GOVERNOR DeSANTIS HAVE BEEN BUSSING TO SANCTUARY CITY AND STATES.

FROM THEIR RESPECTI STATES.

HOW DID HE RESPOND TO THAT?

IT'S ONE THING FOR ME TO CHARACTERIZE, IT'S QUITE ANOTHER TO HEAR EXACTLY WHAT THE GOVERNOR SAID ON THAT QUESTION, AND HERE IT IS.

I THINK IT'S DESPICABLE TO USE HUMAN BEINGS, PARTICULARLY HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE FLEEING A DESPERATE SITUATION AS IT IS IN VENEZUELA, TO USE THEM AS PAWNS.

WE HAVE AN IMMIGRATION CRISIS IN OUR COUNTRY THAT'S BEEN BUILDING A LONG TIME, AND WE NEED TO GET AROUND A BIPARTISAN TABLE AND FIGURE IT OUT.

LISTEN TO THAT.

IT'S CLEAR THAT HE'S EQUALLY SINCERE ABOUT HIS CONDEMNATION OF THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS, WHAT THEY'RE DOING, AND ABOUT HIS DESIRE TO HAVE A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION TO THIS CRISIS.

SO IT MADE ME WONDER, IS THAT HOW HE HAS BEEN GOVERNING NEW JERSEY IN A BIPARTISAN SPIRIT?

AGAIN, THE GOVERNOR WOULD ARGUE, RAF, HE BELIEVES HE'S TRIED TO REACH OUT TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, BUT VAST MAJORITY OF INITIATIVES ARE PASSED WITH DEMOCRAT YOU CAN VOTES.

THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP HAS NOT BEEN WITH THE GOVERNOR ON A RANGE OF INITIATIVES.

THEY BELIEVE HIS POLICIES ARE WRONG, HIS FISCAL POLICIES ARE WRONG, HIS TAX POLICIES ARE WRONG.

SO THE TRUTH IS, HE BELIEVES -- AND I BELIEVE PERCEPTION WISE IN TERMS -- HE'S TRYING TO BE REACHING OUT TO REPUBLICANS, BUT IT'S BEING DONE WITH DEMOCRATS IN 90-PLUS PERCENT OF THE CASES.

IN MOST OF THE CASES THEY DON'T NEED THE REPUBLICAN.

NEW YORK THEY HAVE THE MAJORITY.

YOU ALSO SPOKE TO THE GOVERNOR ABOUT THE FALLOUT FOLLOWING THE SUPREME COURT STRIKING DOWN ROE V. WADE AND THE DOBBS DECISION.

WHAT HAS HE BEEN DOING OR WHAT HAS HE DONE ABOUT REPRODUCTION RIGHTS IN THE STATE?

THE BIGGEST ISSUE, AND WE'LL GO TO THAT CLIP IN JUST A SECOND, THE BIGGEST ISSUE IS THE CODIFICATION OF ROE VS. WADE.

IT WAS DONE IN ANTICIPATION OF WHAT THE SUPREME COURT WAS LIKELY TO DO IN TERMS OF OVERTURNING ROE, BUT THIS IS WHAT THE GOVERNOR SAID IN RESPONSE TO MY QUESTION ON ABORTION.

BEFORE IT CAME DOWN I CODIFIED SIGNING A BILL IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR THAT PROTECTED A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO ABORTION, SO THAT, THANK GOD, IS DONE.

BEFORE THAT, PRIOR TO THAT BILL, ALL OF THE PROTECTIONS AND FREEDOMS WERE BASED ON CASE LAW, ALL OF WHICH ARE IN TURN BASED ON ROE VS. WADE.

SO THAT WOULD HAVE GONE AWAY IMMEDIATELY IN NEW JERSEY.

THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

SO PLEASE, GOD, WE'RE STANDING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.

IS THE CODIFYING OF ABORTION RIGHTS IN NEW JERSEY, DOES IT MEAN AT ANY POINT IN A WOMAN'S PREGNANCY, ALL NINE MONTHS?

IT DOES.

JUST ABOUT EVERY POLL TAKEN OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS SHOWS THAT A SIGNIFICANT MAJORITY OF AMERICANS -- CURRENTLY IT'S ABOUT 60% PLUS -- SUPPORT LEGAL ABORTION DURING THE FIRST TRIMESTER.

BUT THAT THAT SUPPORT BEGINS TO DECLINE FOR ABORTION IN THE SECOND SEMESTER.

AND ACCORDING TO A VERY RECENT A.P. POLL, IT GOES DOWN 20% IN THE THIRD TRIMESTER.

I ASK THIS BECAUSE THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS SO MANY DEMOCRATS ARE RELUCTANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT, THAT MOSTLY WHAT YOU'RE SUPPORTING, AS YOU SAID IN YOUR FOLLOW-UP QUESTION LEADS TO ABORTION UP TO BIRTH.

THAT'S RIGHT.

I JUST SAW ON CNN DANA BASH INTERVIEWING THE DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE KATIE HBOS ABOUT THIS VERY THING, AND KATIE HOBBS WOULD NOT IN TEN MINUTES VERIFY THAT WAS HER POSITION.

BUT THE GOVERNOR SAID UNAMBIGUOUSLY, YES.

DID THAT SURPRISE YOU?

WE HAVE BEEN DOING THIS YEARS AND INTERVIEWED LOTS OF GOVERNORS IN STATES IN THE REGION, NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY.

I'LL SAY THIS, I WAS STUNNED THAT THE GOVERNOR OUTRIGHT SAID, ABSOLUTELY TO FULL TERM -- NO EXCEPT -- THAT'S IT.

I'M SITTING THERE GOING, DID HE REALLY MEAN TO SAY THAT?

I BELIEVE HE BELIEVES IT, RAF.

HE SAID IT.

HIS OFFICE DIDN'T CALL AND SAY, WE'RE GOING TO PUT OUT A RETRACTION.

SO THE GOVERNOR SAID IT.

IT'S OUT THERE.

YOU'RE ONE OF THE FEW WHO FOLLOWS UP WITH THAT QUESTION.

DANA BASH WAS ONE.

I HAVEN'T SEEN THAT QUESTION BEING ASKED MUCH OF DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES.

LET'S TURN NOW TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACE BETWEEN TOM KEAN JR. AND TOM MALINOWSKI, WHICH AS I SAID, BY ALL ACCOUNTS, IT'S A BELLWETHER RACE.

MIGHT DETERMINE WHO'S IN CONTROL OF THE HOUSE THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS AT LEAST.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES AND UNIQUE PARTICULARITIES OF THIS RACE?

THE BIGGEST ONE -- JOURNALISTICALLY, YOU AND I, I BELIEVE WE'RE ON THE SAME PLACE AS THIS.

FOR 25, 30 YEARS, WE'VE INTERVIEWED CANDIDATES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.

NO SNARKINESS, NO NAME CALLING.

THAT'S WHAT WE WANTED TO DO HERE.

I CALLED SENATOR KEAN PERSONALLY.

OUR STAFF REACHED OUT FOR HIS CAMPAIGN.

OUR PRODUCERS DID.

THEY DIDN'T EVEN SAY NO, RAF.

THEY JUST DIDN'T RESPOND.

THREE OR FOUR TIMES THROUGHOUT THE HALF HOUR.

I HAD TO -- EXCUSE ME, ONLY GAVE 15 MINUTES TO TOM MALINOWSKI.

KEAN WOULDN'T SHOW UP, DIDN'T TURN IT DOWN KOIG.

HE HASN'T BEEN DOING IT FOR THE LOCAL MEDIA ACROSS THE BOARD.

HIS PEOPLE RESPONDED.

THEY ADMITTED IT, BUT THEY'RE SAYING THAT'S BECAUSE THE LOCAL MEDIA ONLY SEEMS TO BE INTERESTED IN ASKING HIM ABOUT ABORTION AND ABOUT TRUMP/JANUARY 6th.

AND QUITE FRANKLY, I MEAN, THERE'S SOMETHING TO THAT.

AND HE IS CORRECT TO THE POINT WHERE HE SAYS, WHAT CONCERNS AMERICANS AND HIS CONSTITUENTS, I GUESS, IS THE ECONOMY, INFLATION, AND CRIME.

TWO BIG POLLS RECENTLY -- YOU KNOW, THE 'TIMES' SIENNA POLL AND THE HARRIS/HARVARD POLL BOTH SAY THAT AND THAT ABORTION IS DECLINING IN INTEREST AND NOBODY'S INTERESTED IN JANUARY 6th.

SO DOESN'T HE HAVE A POINT THERE?

NO.

AND HERE'S WHY.

BECAUSE, RAF, YOU AND I UNDERSTAND MOST OF US IN PUBLIC BROADCASTING UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF THE IMMEDIATE YAM IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT TOM KEAN THINKS WILL GIVE HIM AN ADVANTAGE.

YES, TRUTHFULLY, THE MORE INTERACTION, THE MORE INTERVIEWS WITH MEDIA WHO ARE SERIOUS, HE CAN MAKE A MISTAKE, SAY SOMETHING HE DOESN'T WANT THE SAY.

HE'S RUNNING A BUNKER MENTALITY CAMPAIGN.

IT MAY WIN.

HERE'S THE THING, JANUARY 6th DOES MATTER.

THAT'S NOT AN OPINION.

IT MATTERS.

WHAT'S THE OTHER SIDE?

THE POINT IS HE NEEDED TO EXPLAIN --

YOU MEAN IT MATTERS AS AN ISSUE, EVEN THOUGH IT MAY NOT MATTER TO VOTERS.

RAF, AS JOURNALISTS, WE HAVE TO STAY ON THAT ISSUE.

EVEN IF PEOPLE SAY, I'M TIRED OF HEARING IT.

THAT'S LIKE PEOPLE SAYING I'M TIRE OFFEND HEARING COVID.

WE NEED TO CREATE GREATER PUBLIC AWARENESS.

WE NEED PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND JANUARY 6th MATTERS TO DEMOCRACY.

KEAN SAID NOTHING ON IT.

I WANT TO ASK HIM ABOUT THAT.

IS THAT BECAUSE WE'RE THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE?

YOU ASKED CONGRESSMAN MALINOWSKI ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND INFLATION AS WELL.

LET ME MOVE ON, BECAUSE TOM KEAN HAS DEBATED CONGRESSMAN MALINOWSKI, FACE-TO-FACE AT LEAST ONCE.

IN THE FACE-TO-FACE DEBATE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ACCUSE HIM OF TRYING TO DODGE THE ABORTION QUESTION.

HE DID SPECIFY WHERE HE STOOD ON ABORTION.

HE SAID, QUOTE, I'M PRO-CHOICE.

THAT'S VERY CLEAR.

I LIKE MOST NEW JERSEYANS -- AS WE SAID EARLIER THAT'S LIKE MOST AMERICAN STANDARDS.

NOT THE CASE IN THE SEVENTH DISTRICT.

HERE'S THE PROBLEM, RAF.

TOM KEAN CAN SPEAK FOR HIMSELF IF HE CHOOSES.

YOU AND I TRIED TO GET HIM A DOZEN TIMES WHEN HE WAS IN THE STATE SENATE.

THE PROBLEM IS THERE WAS A VOTE THAT CAME UP IN THE STATE SENATE BEFORE HE LEFT THE LEGISLATURE, AND THE VOTE WAS TO CODIFY ROE VS. WADE.

YEAH, BUT HE SAYS HE VOTED AGAINST THAT BECAUSE HE DIDN'T WANT TO NO RESTRICTIONS UP TO BIRTH.

ANY WAY, WE GOT 30 SECONDS LEFT, IF YOU COULD WRAP THAT UP QUICKLY.

BOTTOM LINE IS HE DIDN'T CLARIFY IT.

HE DIDN'T MAKE IT CLEAR WHY HE DID WHAT HE DID.

HE JUST DIDN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

THAT'S HIS RIGHT, BUT IT'S OUR RIGHT AS JOURNALISTS TO PRESS WITH QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD MATTER TO PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY HAVE IMPACT.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS.

LAST QUESTION.

-- WHAT IS YOUR PREDICTION?

WHO WINS IN DISTRICT 7?

IN PUBLIC BROADCASTING WE TRY NOT TO DO THAT.

I'M GOING ASK YOU.

OF COURSE YOU'RE GOING ASK ME.

WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER TOO LONG.

IN FIVE SECONDS.

I BELIEVE MALINOWSKI WON BY A THOUSAND VOTES THIS TIME.

IT'S TOM KEAN'S RACE TO LOSE BECAUSE OF REDISTRICTING.

HE SHOULD WIN THIS RACE.

THANKS, MAN.

YOU GOT IT.

©2022 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489