A group of Newark political, business and union leaders calling themselves the "Dream Team" raised more than $50,000 for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Murphy.
Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins and her husband, Kevin Jenkins, former Mayor Sharpe James, former City Councilman Calvin West and CWA leader Lionel Leach hosted the Dec. 15 fundraiser in the Robert Treat Hotel.
Among the more than 50 people who packed the 15th floor presidential suite were a eclectic group of leaders representing various Newark power centers including Newark real estate mogul Miles Berger, South Ward Councilman John James, former Essex County Freeholder and East Ward power broker Joseph Parlavecchio and Calvin Souder, a prominent laywer, and former Newark Police Chief Anthony Campos. Also in attendance were Assemblyman Tom Giblin and former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli.
A group calling themselves the "Dream Team," consisting of Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, former Councilman Calvin West, CWA leader Lionel Leach and former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, raised more than $50,000 for Democratic gubernatorial Phil Murphy (center).
Murphy, the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Goldman Sachs banker, thanked the group for hosting the fundraiser. Noting that he was the finance chair of the Democratic National Committee under former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Murphy acknowledged the importance of not only raising money, but raising awareness.
"It's not just how much money you raise, but it's the number of people you have along for the ride," Murphy said. "I can't do this alone. I need you."
Murphy focused him remarks on the economy, saying if New Jersey doesn't "find the money to provide the services that the government needs to provide for the people who need government the most, it won't be worth talking about."
He said fixing New Jersey's economy begins with the state's urban centers.
"It begins with Newark, a city of enormous promise, enormous upside, which I believe in my bones," Murphy said. "It isn't only growing the economy. We have an economy that is as flat as a pancake and profoundly unfair. We have to not only grow the pie, we have to make sure everyone gets a piece of of the pie."
Murphy said his focus would be on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) innovation and infrastructure.
"I would argue that no city in the state would benefit more from the re-ignition of those engines than Newark and no county more than Essex," Murphy said. "There's no one thing we can do to make it fair overnight, but we can stand for minimum wage going up, earned sick leave for everybody, not just for some, child-dependent care and care giver tax credits, equal pay for equal work, making college more affordable for our kids. There's a whole range of things that I will stand for."
The "Dream Team" that hosted the fundraiser was the same group of Newarkers who endorsed Murphy long before his potential rivals -- Senate President Steve Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop -- announced they were not running. After the October surprise announcements, a host of Democrats from Newark, including Mayor Ras Baraka, and Essex County endorsed Murphy. Additional fundraisers are planned by the group.