Gov. Phil Murphy has long said data and science, not politics, have been the drivers of his pandemic policies.

A closer look at the timing of some of his decisions may cause many to question that.

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The same day he announced an end to the highly controversial school mask mandate, it was confirmed Murphy had launched two political groups to boost his national profile.

One group will be headed by longtime Murphy communications strategist Dan Bryan. Both are named 'Stronger. Fairer. Forward.' and preach many of the same themes Murphy carried during his recent re-election campaign.

There was also a report in the New York Times that it was Murphy who urged his Democratic counterparts in other state's to start lifting COVID restrictions before the mid-term elections.

During his announcement on lifting the mask mandate on Monday, Murphy was pressed by reporters asking about the politics of the decision. "We disavow the premise of the question," Murphy said."

He then doubled down on the non-political nature of lifting the mask mandate in an interview on MSNBC, saying it was being done not out of politics, but because "it is the right, responsible thing to do in New Jersey."

Murphy has repeatedly denied he has presidential aspirations, but he is following the same pattern taken by former Gov. Chris Christie before he announced a White House run.

In 2015, Christie launched a political action committee to raise his national profile before announcing he was running for president.

Phil and I have spent the past four years working tirelessly to make New Jersey a stronger and fairer place for everyone. Though we’ve come far, there is still much more work to be done. These organizations will advocate for policies and candidates to further strengthen our economy and provide opportunity for all. Now is the time for action. - First Lady Tammy Murphy

Both of Murphy's new groups are chaired by First Lady Tammy Murphy. In a statement, she said, "These organizations will advocate for policies and candidates to further strengthen our economy and provide opportunity for all. Now is the time for action.”

What that action will be is not clear. They could be used to fund issue campaigns and pay for travel for Gov. Murphy to visit other state's on political business.

Murphy has used these types of groups very effectively in his two successful campaigns for governor. He cannot run for a third term in New Jersey.

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