This week, The New Republic is launching The Run-Up, a weekly newsletter that takes a deep dive into America’s permanent campaign season. Every Thursday morning, readers will get what they need to stay abreast of what’s happening in key races across the country, learn more about the issues that are animating big political contests, and make more sense of the endless grind of election news.
For our inaugural edition, we talked with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, the current vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association and the National Governors Association. Murphy explained how he’ll advise Democrats to talk about abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, what he would do if he had the chance to do his own reelection campaign over again, and where you might see him out on the campaign trail with his fellow Democrats during the midterms. A condensed transcript of the interview is below.
Grace:The big issue of the hour is abortion. If the federal right to an abortion is overturned, what effect will that have on Democratic candidates, particularly candidates for governor?
Murphy:I think, sadly, and for all the wrong reasons, it will have a significant impact. People are exceedingly upset about this. I never think about this, firstly, through a political lens, but if you do look at it through that lens, abortion rights are supported by the vast majority of Americans, including a significant amount of independent voters, moderate Republicans. We saw when that draft leaked, at least in New Jersey, we saw rallies popping up on literally moments’ notice, with huge turnouts. It will continue to anger folks, especially women, but not just women. I’m not sure that it leapfrogs affordability and opportunity—the sort of kitchen table issues of the day—but it will become a very significant piece of the political landscape. This is a really angering moment. And some of those rallies I mentioned, that were sort of pop-up, instant rallies, were in suburban communities.
Daniel:How would you recommend candidates run on Roe v. Wade being overturned?
Murphy: Again, it’s odious to even be thinking about this as a political matter. But elections have consequences. I think we should be exceedingly forthright about it. I don’t think we should shy away from using the word “abortion.” Hit this squarely on the nose and call it for exactly what it is. I don’t think we should be coy. I don’t think we should be abstract; we should be graphic. Walk through exactly what this means, particularly for women who, for whatever reason—usually economic, usually based on race, sadly—who don’t have the options that other women who are more well off have. I think this is a moment in particular to stand up for women and underserved communities.
Grace: You’re the vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association. What are some of the issues that Democratic governors are facing right now in this midterm cycle?
Murphy:I think overwhelmingly affordability. What are we doing for your kitchen table? Whether that’s gas prices, inflation generally, taxes, health care costs and access. What are we doing to make sure your kids have a better shot than mom and dad have had? In addition to reproductive freedom and abortion, I think guns and gun safety are also on the list. But I think affordability and opportunity. What are you doing to put cash back in my pocket? What are you doing to give everybody, especially my kids, their opportunity, their shot at the American dream? I think the Democrats have a far better story to tell than polls would suggest.
Grace:What is that story?
Murphy:It depends on the state and the race. Laura Kelly, in Kansas, is going after … the grocery tax. Other states are suspending the gas tax. We in New Jersey put forward a historic property tax relief that will become permanent to the tune of $2 billion. And it’s means-tested, so it’s going exactly toward working families. On the opportunity front, prioritizing investment in public education, investment in infrastructure, workforce development, health care, access to health care. I think the story is a very strong one. I think we are the party that stands with working families. And we need to make that crystal clear.
Daniel:Yours was one of two off-year gubernatorial elections, and they did not work out exactly like Democrats expected, although I think your party was much happier with the result in New Jersey than Virginia. What do you think Democrats should take from your narrow win? If I’m a candidate, it seems like a chilling herald for the midterms.
Murphy: I think it was the canary in the coal mine for what we’re seeing this year. We lost a close one in Virginia. We won by 3.3 percent [in New Jersey], so it wasn’t as close as it felt on election night, but it was still closer than I think any of us expected. Remember that movie Network? They’re mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore. Coming out of the pandemic, they’re not sure necessarily why they’re mad or who they’re mad at, but they’re mad. If you’re on the ballot, at least in my case, folks came out because of that, whether it had something to do with me or not.
Daniel: Florida Governor RonDeSantis in particular: He seems to be able to tap into that.
Murphy: I think that’s right. Secondly, I’m mad at myself for not hitting affordability more squarely. We had 14 middle-class and senior tax cuts in our first term. We should have hit that harder. Back to my point about affordability and opportunity, I think we should shout from the highest mountain the story we’ve got to tell that underpins both of those words, because it’s a good one. Don’t take anything for granted.
Daniel: Campaigns always tell reporters they’re taking nothing for granted.
Murphy: I don’t know that I could have worked longer hours. But if I could have, I would have. A lot of these races will be razor thin, and that’s the takeaway.
Grace:Will you be campaigning with or on behalf of any candidates this cycle?
Murphy:If anybody wants me to, absolutely. Roy Cooper’s the DGA chair, who is terrific. I’m the vice chair. We were just together at an event with Kathy Hochul and Ned Lamont, helping them out. Roy was going to [campaign] with Stacey Abrams tomorrow in Georgia, but he came up with [a] case of Covid, and I was unable to get there. But absolutely. That’s a decision the candidate or the governor makes, not me.
Daniel: Are you planning or hopeful to go down to Georgia and campaign for Abrams?
Murphy: I would love to. I can’t do it this week. But I’m a huge fan of hers. We helped her out last time, and she helped me out last year. [Pennsylvania Attorney General] Josh Shapiro is another guy that I’ve stood beside and worked on in Pennsylvania, by the way.
Daniel:That’s such an interesting race to me because Josh has a huge fundraising advantage over [Republican candidate Doug] Mastriano. Do you think those poll numbers will move more in Shapiro’s direction because of that financial advantage, which is so dramatic, or do you think it’s still going to be close?
Murphy:I think it’ll be close. I hope it moves in the right direction. But I think a landslide in Pennsylvania these days is a couple of points, and as crazy as this guy is, and as good as Josh is, I think there’s a base that Mastriano will have, whether we like it or not. Josh will win that race. He will win it because he laid everything out, but it will be close.
Grace: Are you worried about the strategy, in some races, where some Democratic outside groups are boosting the more extreme right-wing Republican candidates?
Murphy:I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, but I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with it. I think I recall Harry Reid in 2010, or folks who were sympathetic with Harry Reid in 2010, played that card successfully.
Grace: The day after the Uvalde shooting, you said that Republicans are taking blood money from the gun lobby. What spurred you to make that comment?
Murphy: We know that the gun lobby sits between the will of the American people and inaction in Congress. Things like universal background checks, which I think in the last poll was at 88 percent [support], and yet we’ve never been able to accomplish that in Congress. That doesn’t happen by accident. But having said that, they released a package of bills yesterday. I applaud the folks who have come together to at least take that step. As modest as it might be, it’s a step in the right direction.
This interview appears in The Run-Up, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by staff writers Grace Segers and Daniel Strauss. Sign up here.
Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the West has seen as a warning not to intervene.
Published On 25 Jun 202225 Jun 2022
Russia will supply Belarus with missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads after the president complained about nuclear-armed NATO flights coming close to the Belarusian border.
President Vladimir Putin made the announcement on Saturday as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow.
“In the coming months, we will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television at the start of his meeting with Lukashenko in St Petersburg.
At the meeting, Lukashenko expressed concern about the “aggressive”, “confrontational”, and “repulsive” policies of Belarus’s neighbours Lithuania and Poland.
He asked Putin to help his country mount a “symmetrical response” to what he said were nuclear-armed flights by the US-led NATO alliance near Belarus’s borders.
Putin offered to upgrade Belarusian warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons amid soaring tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Last month, Lukashenko said his country had bought Iskander nuclear-capable missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft anti-missile systems from Russia.
“Many Su-25 [aircraft] are in service with the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded in an appropriate way,” Putin said.
“This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this. We will agree on how to accomplish this.”
Putin has several times referred to nuclear weapons since his country invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the West has seen as a warning not to intervene.
Moscow has alleged that NATO planned to admit Ukraine and use it as a platform to threaten Russia.
Russia’s move has not only triggered a barrage of Western sanctions but also prompted Sweden and Russia’s northern neighbour Finland to apply to join the Western alliance.
In the past week, Lithuania in particular has infuriated Russia by blocking the transit of goods subject to European sanctions travelling across its territory from Russia, through Belarus, to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
Russia called it a “blockade” but Lithuania has said it affects only 1 percent of the normal goods transit on the route and passenger traffic is unaffected.
Russian forces have fully occupied Severodonetsk, the mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city said, confirming Ukraine’s biggest battlefield setback for more than a month after weeks of fighting to hold the strategic town and latest symbol of Ukrainian resistance.
Russian missiles also rained down on western, northern and southern parts of the country on Saturday as Europe’s biggest land conflict since World War II enters its fifth month.
The fall of Severodonetsk – once home to more than 100,000 people, and now reduced to a wasteland of rubble by Russian artillery – is Moscow’s biggest victory since capturing the port of Mariupol last month.
The fall of the city transforms the battlefield in the east of Ukraine where Moscow’s huge advantage in firepower had until now yielded only slow gains.
“The city is now under the full occupation of Russia,” the city’s Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said on national television. He said anyone left behind could no longer reach Ukrainian-held territory, as the city was effectively cut off.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Ukrainian attempt to turn the city’s Azot chemical plant into another centre of resistance had been thwarted.
“As a result of successful offensive operations, units of the people’s militia of the LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic], with the support of Russian troops … completely liberated the cities of Severodonetsk and Borivske,” he said.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency described the fall of the city as a means for Ukrainian forces to regroup from Severodonetsk to higher ground in neighbouring Lysychansk.
“The activities happening in the area of Severodonetsk are a tactical regrouping of our troops. This is a withdrawal to advantageous positions to obtain a tactical advantage,” said Kyrylo Budanov, head of Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
“Russia is using the tactic … it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth,” he said.
“Given the conditions, holding the defence in the ruins and open fields is no longer possible. So the Ukrainian forces are leaving for higher ground to continue the defence operations.”
Russia will now be hoping to press on and seize more ground on the opposite bank of the Siverskyi Donets river where Severodonetsk’s twin city Lysychansk is located.
Ukraine will also hope that the price Moscow paid to capture the ruins of Severodonetsk will leave Russia’s forces vulnerable to a counterattack in coming weeks.
Lysychansk and Severodonetsk have been the focal point of Russian offensives aimed at capturing all of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and destroying the Ukrainian military defending it – the most capable and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces.
The two cities and surrounding areas are the last major pockets of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk province, 95 percent of which is under Russian and local separatist control. Russians and separatist forces also control about half of Donetsk, the second province in the Donbas.
The capture of Severodonetsk is likely to be seen by Russia as vindication for its switch from its early, failed attempt at “lightning warfare” to a relentless, grinding offensive using massive artillery in the east.
The retreat from Severodonetsk also brings Moscow close to full control of Luhansk.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reporting from the capital Kyiv said the withdrawal from Severodonetsk leaves Ukrainian forces in control of just one remaining city in Luhansk.
“The big question now though is whether the Ukrainians can hold on to Luhansk. Having seemingly lost control of Severodonetsk, there is only one more city in the Luhansk region that the Ukrainian forces still control,” Stratford said.
“This is being described fundamentally as the, potentially, biggest defeat for Ukrainian forces since Mariupol last month,” he said.
Ukrainian officials said that they were pulling troops back from Severodonetsk to avoid being surrounded by the Russians, who had crossed the river in force in recent days and were advancing on Lysychansk on the opposite bank. Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk, said Russian forces had attempted to enter and blockade Lysychansk.
Moscow says Luhansk and Donetsk, where it has backed uprisings since 2014, are independent countries, and has demanded Ukraine cede the entire territory of the two provinces to separatist administrations.
Ukraine’s top general, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, wrote on the Telegram app on Saturday that newly arrived, US-supplied advanced HIMARS rocket systems were now deployed and hitting targets in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, governors of western and northern regions reported multiple missile attacks, indicating that Russia was not limiting its assault to eastern territories.
“48 cruise missiles. At night. Throughout whole Ukraine,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “Russia is still trying to intimidate Ukraine, cause panic and make people be afraid.”
48 🇷🇺 cruise missiles. At night. Throughout whole Ukraine. Exclusively on civilian targets… Russia is still trying to intimidate Ukraine, cause panic and make people be afraid of Z-monsters… Ukraine knows everything and ready for anything. And it will punish for all the evil…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 25, 2022
The governor of Lviv region in western Ukraine, Maxim Kozytskyi, said in a video posted online that six missiles were fired from the Black Sea at the Yavoriv base near the border with Poland. Four hit the target but two were destroyed.
In the north, Vitaliy Bunechko, governor of the Zhytomyr region, said strikes on a military target killed at least one soldier, adding that nearly 10 missiles had been intercepted and destroyed.
In the south, Oleksandr Senkevych, mayor of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea, said five cruise missiles hit the city and nearby areas on Saturday.
The number of casualties is being clarified and there was no independent confirmation of the various reports.
‘Belarus as a co-belligerent’
In another potentially significant development, Ukraine said it had come under “massive bombardment” early on Saturday morning from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict.
Twenty rockets “fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air” targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine’s northern military command said. It said infrastructure was hit, but no casualties had yet been reported.
“Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian intelligence service said.
Ukraine’s air command also said Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers were deployed from Belarus for the first time. Belarus hosts Russian military units and was used as a staging ground before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but its own troops have not yet crossed the border.
On Saturday afternoon, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would send Belarus missiles able to carry nuclear warheads within months.
“We will transfer to Belarus Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use ballistic or cruise missiles, in their conventional and nuclear versions,” he said, as he met his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island police officer accused of punching a woman at an abortion protest while he was off-duty was suspended from his job with pay Saturday while the Providence Police Department conducts a criminal investigation into his actions.
Jennifer Rourke, Rhode Island Political Cooperative Chairwoman and a state Senate candidate, told the Providence Journal she was punched in the face at least twice by Jeann Lugo, the officer who had also been her challenger in the state Senate race.
Lugo told the Journal on he was “not going to deny” the punching allegation, but added that “everything happened very fast.”
“As an officer that swore to protect and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in,” he said in the email to the Boston Globe. ”I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking.”
Lugo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
Video of the event posted online shows two other individuals involved in a physical altercation at the protest right before a woman, apparently Rourke, is seen being hit. The video does not show what happened between Lugo and Rourke prior to Rourke being hit.
“I’m a Black woman running for office,” Rourke told the Journal. “There was no need, no need for any of this. I’m not going to give up.”
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza addressed the conflict in a tweet but said he was limited in what he could say.
“I’ve seen the video and it’s immensely disturbing,” Elorza said. “Those responsible will be held fully accountable.”
At midday Saturday, Lugo tweeted that he was dropping out of the race.
“I will not be running for any office this fall,” he said.
In a news release announcing the suspension, Providence police said the suspended officer was a three-year veteran.
The altercation occurred during a Friday protest outside the Rhode Island State House in Providence that was in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion.