The NJEA has endorsed Gov. Phil Murphy for re-election in the 2021 Democratic primary.

The union's PAC Operating Committee "overwhelmingly" chose Murphy, whose run for a second term began quietly on Oct. 1 when he filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to begin fundraising.

NJEA President Marie Blistan said that Murphy earned their endorsement by keeping his promises and listening to education experts.

"He has shown that, regardless of job description, he respects the contributions of every school employee, and he has signed legislation to ensure fairer working conditions," Blistan said in a written statement.

Vice President Sean Spiller said Murphy will lead the state through a "tipping point in our society."

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“Gov. Murphy shares our commitment to social justice. He knows there is much work to be done and he is eager to work with us and other partners to diversify our workforce and our curriculum. That’s the kind of leadership we need in order to make long-lasting change that benefits everyone," Spiller said.

Despite the praise, union leaders did not agree with his decision to allow schools to open this fall during he pandemic. Blistan said reopening put students and staff at risk for exposure to coronavirus.

"We fully support and share the governor’s goal of moving to in-person instruction as soon as the science and data say we can do so responsibly and when the resources are available in our school buildings to do it safely," Blistan said this summer.

Murphy offered a compromise and required schools to offer online instruction to any students who did not want to return to classrooms.

No other Democrats have announced their candidacy for governor but Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union, and Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries reportedly are considering a run for the office.

On the Republican side, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is already running a campaign and Hirsh Singh has filed to form a campaign. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and state Republican Committee Chairman Doug Steinhardt are also considering runs for governor.

Michael Symons contributed to this report.

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