Democrat Phil Murphy has been elected as the next Governor of the State of New Jersey. Murphy comes in to the office with a double-digit victory over departing lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno (R), and the backing of a state legislature controlled by Democrats.  Governor-Elect Murphy, who has never served in elected office, promises to take the Garden State in a new direction.

Among the portions of his platform most likely to be of interest to businesses, Governor-Elect Murphy has committed to:

  1. “Establishing a state-level Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and strengthening existing regulations in light of President Trump’s efforts to roll-back the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law”;
  2. “Holding bankers accountable by prosecuting financial fraud”;
  3. “Requiring telecom providers and ISPs to seek permission before collecting personal information”;
  4. “Appointing an Attorney General who will enforce consumer protections around data privacy”;
  5. “Improving our state’s existing cybersecurity and other Homeland Security initiatives”; and
  6. “Convening stakeholders in government, industry, and academia to share best practices in cybersecurity and to foster new innovations.”

Governor-Elect Murphy has also committed to the creation of a public bank and the legalization of marijuana use.

While the Governor-Elect’s comments have certainly created excitement among his base, as well as throughout the consumer advocacy groups, they have created some tension and unease among the business community, both within and outside of the Garden State. This is particularly true for financial institutions, tech companies, and other industries that are already feeling the weight of federal and state regulation.  Affected companies will undoubtedly need to take a hard look at their internal policies and procedures in the areas of legal and regulatory compliance, risk management, and information technology, in order to ensure that they conform to the new political reality of doing business in New Jersey.  Mr. Murphy’s progressive posture may also create new questions for companies in areas where Mr. Murphy’s consumer protection and regulatory enforcement directives may clash with those of the Trump Administration and federal regulators.  Any new obstacles that surface as a result of Mr. Murphy’s agenda can certainly be mitigated through effective strategic and risk planning, and companies taking a more aggressive response through proactive advocacy.

He will be sworn in as Governor on January 16, 2018.