BY MICHAEL CATALINI
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A former Democratic Obama administration diplomat is taking over the New Jersey governor’s office from Republican Chris Christie on Tuesday.
Phil Murphy posted a photo of his wife and children in a group hug on Twitter Tuesday and wrote “Today our great state turns a new page.”
The former Wall Street executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany will become the state’s 56th governor after he is sworn in at the War Memorial in Trenton.
He was attending a prayer service at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton and his inaugural ball will take place Tuesday night under a tent at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
The switch from Christie means that New Jersey will go from a governor who is a friend of President Donald Trump to one that opposes him on many fronts.
Christie has conservative views on taxes, opposes marijuana legalization and fights bitterly with labor unions over public pensions and education spending.
Murphy built his campaign around undoing the Trump administration’s efforts on health care, immigration and taxes. He promises to raise taxes on millionaires and legalize recreational marijuana, allies himself with unions and says he will increase pension payments and school aid.
Murphy has never held political office and earned his fortune, which he used to help win the Democratic nomination last year, as an executive at Goldman Sachs.
Christie is deeply unpopular as he leaves office, with his job approval rating in polls in the teens.
Murphy comes into office as a little known figure after his November victory in a low-turnout election. An October Quinnipiac University poll showed a fifth of voters didn’t know or hadn’t heard enough about Murphy to have an opinion. The survey talked to 1,049 voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.
That figure could shrink in the coming months since New Jersey’s governor is among the most powerful in the country, with the authority to appoint judges, prosecutors and hundreds of other officials, and is often in the spotlight.
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