Obama to host an event for New Jersey governor candidate

Obama to host an event for New Jersey governor candidate
© Getty Images

Former President Obama will host an event this fall for Phil Murphy, the Democrat running for governor of New Jersey, Democratic sources say. 

Murphy served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013 under Obama. He also worked for more than two decades at Goldman Sachs.

It's one of several events Obama is expected to attend in the coming weeks as he seeks to lend his star power to Democrats across the country. 

An event for Ralph Northam, the Democrat running for governor of Virginia, is also in the works, and sources say Obama is likely to add to his political schedule through the beginning of 2018 as he readies for next year's midterms.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I think a lot of people are missing his leadership and are looking to him to boost the party’s fundraising numbers,” said one longtime Obama donor. “I think many people in the party are desperate for his return."

Obama will appear at a fundraiser on Sept. 27 in Washington for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), his second political event since leaving office. The event is expected to help the DNC fill its coffers and send money to state parties across the country.

But advisers to the former president emphasize Obama will not be a consistent presence on the political stage.

“President Obama of course wants to see Democrats rebuild and will help with that process,” one adviser said. “But he’s also acutely aware that when he consumes all of the political oxygen it can suffocate the next generation of party leaders." 

“It’s not in anyone’s interest — including the former president’s, the Democratic Party’s or country’s — for President Obama to become the face of the resistance or to narrate the Trump presidency,” the adviser added. “That’s why he wants to support the next generation of Democratic leaders establish themselves, build their own profile, and lead our country.”

The president’s re-emergence on the political stage this fall comes on the heels of a new effort by President Trump and Senate Republicans to repeal ObamaCare, threatening the former president’s signature legislation.

Trump also said he is winding down Obama’s program allowing young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children to gain work permits, announced the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate deal if it is not changed, and strongly suggested he will end the Iran nuclear agreement.

Obama remains a popular figure among Democratic donors, making him an important surrogate for Democratic candidates looking to storm to victory in pivotal gubernatorial races. 

He won Virginia and New Jersey in both of his presidential runs, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the former in 40 years.

The former president could help push Northam over the top in what appears to be a tight race with Republican Ed Gillespie. 

A University of Mary Washington poll released on Monday showed that Northam leads Gillespie 44 percent to 39 percent among likely voters. Northam’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error of 5.2 percentage points.  

In New Jersey, Murphy holds a massive lead over his Republican rival, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

A Quinnipiac University Poll showed Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, with a 25-point lead over Guadagno.

Obama has had to do a delicate dance in re-emerging onto the national stage. While allies say he wants to play an active role in helping his party rebuild, he wants to allow the space for other new leaders to emerge. 

He also doesn’t want to be a foil for Trump and Republicans and has been cautious in weighing in on political matters. 

At the same time, the former president is working on his book and has set his sights on his foundation. This week, he’ll be giving the keynote at the Gates Foundation and he’ll host the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit later this fall. 

— Ben Kamisar contributed to this report.