Over the weekend, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey was met with an unexpected serenade – not of applause, but rather a robust round of booing at a local concert near his private residence.
Murphy made an appearance at the Red Rock Tap + Grill in Red Bank, near the Jersey Shore, joining the band, Brian Kirk & the Jirks, on stage. Band frontman Brian Kirk personally invited the governor to share the limelight, which led to a discordant response from the crowd.
Instead of the usual cheers, the attendees registered their discontent with the governor’s presence, creating a chorus of boos that reverberated through the venue. This unexpected audience reaction seemed to catch the band off guard, eliciting a stern response from the singer.
Exclaiming into the microphone, Kirk chastised the crowd, saying, “Hey, hey. What did I tell you guys?” The singer attempted to calm the crowd, reminding them that his call to invite Murphy on stage was not about politics, but about a personal friendship.
Despite the icy reception, Murphy seemed unperturbed, remaining on stage amidst the disapproval.
This negative response might reflect public sentiment towards Murphy’s tenure as governor, which saw him narrowly re-elected in November 2021 by a margin of just 84,000 votes in a historically blue state. His Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli, lost by a thin three-point margin in the pro-lockdown climate championed by Murphy.
Governor Murphy’s administration has been marked by stringent lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, closing schools, beaches, restaurants, and places of worship. This approach sparked debate around civil liberties, with one particularly poignant moment during an early 2020 interview with then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson. When asked about the constitutional grounding for his lockdown order, Murphy famously replied, “That’s above my pay grade, Tucker… I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”
This concert incident might suggest that some citizens continue to hold a note of discord with Murphy’s governance. It’s a stark reminder that the symphony of politics often resounds beyond the boundaries of the political stage and into the everyday lives of the citizens that our public servants have sworn to represent.