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As Law Enforcement Investigates Maskless GOP ‘Gala’, NJ Governor Says Rep. Matt ‘Putz’ Is No Longer Welcome in Garden State


New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy just went full scorched earth on Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. Murphy called Gaetz “Matt Putz” in both his daily press conference and in a string of social media posts Friday afternoon, in which he blasted the congressman and the New York Young Republican Club for holding a fundraising gala in Jersey City on Thursday night. Murphy said the group allegedly snuck into the Jersey City venue after they were unable to hold the event in New York due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Murphy slammed the attendees at the event, as photo and video footage showed them failing to practice social distancing or wear masks.

“That guy in the middle, the tall handsome fella in the gray suit, that is Rep. Matt Putz, sorry Matt Gaetz, and based on his past performances, it is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him,” Murphy said.

Murphy frequently uses the term “knucklehead” in New Jersey communications and roadway signs to refer to people who refuse to abide by COVID-19 precautions.

In his posts, Murphy ended, “frankly I don’t ever want you back in this state.”

Reactions to Murphy’s public remarks were swift and fierce. Gavin Mario Wax, president of the New York Young Republican Club, denied any wrongdoing and accused Murphy of acting in politically-motivated bad faith. Wax went on to challenge, “As far as we are aware, the First Amendment has not been repealed.”

Gaetz tried his hand at some snark as well, retorting, “You’re gonna regret this tweet when you move to Florida like the rest of New Jersey.”

The internet was ready for the Murphy v. Gaetz e-brawl.

Reactions ranged from the ironic:

…to the personal:

And the festive:

…to the straight-up Jersey.

It appears the celebratory night was destined for Twitter-glory right from the start. One attendee tweeted out a picture of himself with Gaetz, daring New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), “I’m here with Matt Gaetz.  Come and get me.”

Jersey City chief prosecutor Jake Hudnut jumped in and quickly responded, “Pssst… you are in Jersey City -not New York. Gov. Cuomo may not be able to “come and get” you. But I can.”

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (D) got in on the conversation too, tweeting “So brave of you to tweet at [Governor Cuomo] after sneaking across the river to hide in NJ in order to hold a party that you wouldn’t disclose the location of. Nevertheless JC law enforcement will be visiting the Maritime Parc this AM + will follow appropriate steps within laws of NJ.”

Jersey City Police are reportedly investigating the event.

[image via Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP Getty Images]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos