Julianne Murray is an attorney and Republican politician from Delaware who unsuccessfully ran for statewide office twice before being elected as the chairwoman of the Delaware Republican Party in 2023. She first gained prominence with an unsuccessful bid for Governor of Delaware in 2020, followed by a high-profile campaign for Attorney General in 2022. Although she lost both races, Murray established herself as a rising star in the Delaware GOP through her articulate advocacy for conservative policies and energetic campaign style.
Early Life and Education
Julianne Murray was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1970. She attended Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, graduating in 1988. Her high school activities included student council, drill team, and serving as senior class vice president.
After high school, Murray studied at the University of Arizona in Tucson, completing a bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology in 1992. She was active in her sorority as well as the university rodeo club.
Murray eventually relocated to Delaware, where she enrolled in the Widener University School of Law. She graduated with her Juris Doctor degree in 2011. While in law school, she served as an editor for the Widener Law Review.
After earning her law degree, Murray’s first legal job was as a judicial clerk for Judge Robert B. Young on the Superior Court of Delaware. She assisted Judge Young with legal research and drafting opinions.
Following her clerkship, Murray entered private practice as an associate attorney at the law firm Fuqua, Yori, and Willard. She focused on family law, estate planning, and civil litigation cases.
Murray later moved to the firm Hudson, Jones, Jaywork & Fisher, where she continued gaining experience in areas like personal injury and insurance law. She became a partner at the firm in 2017.
Murray has been actively involved in Delaware’s legal community as a member of the Delaware State Bar Association and the Sussex County Bar Association. She served on the executive committee of the Sussex County Bar.
Entry into Politics
2018 State Senate Campaign
Murray first ventured into electoral politics in 2018 when she challenged incumbent Democratic State Senator Bryan Townsend in Delaware’s 11th Senate district. She criticized Townsend as being too liberal and out of touch with the district. However, Murray lost decisively, earning just 38% of the vote to Townsend’s 62%.
Positions and Policy Priorities
Despite her Senate loss, the 2018 campaign helped establish Murray’s reputation as an unapologetic conservative. Some of the positions she emphasized included:
- Protecting gun rights and opposing new firearm restrictions
- Improving technical and vocational education
- Reining in government spending and reducing taxes
- Reforming the criminal justice system while still supporting law enforcement
- Limiting abortion access and promoting pro-life policies
2020 Gubernatorial Campaign
In 2020, Murray set her sights higher by running for Governor of Delaware. She entered a crowded Republican primary field that included more established candidates like State Senator Colin Bonini.
Murray ran to the right of her GOP rivals, promoting herself as the true conservative choice. She called for reducing unemployment benefits to push more people back to work. Murray also pledged to limit government spending, lower taxes, and audit state agencies to eliminate waste and inefficiency.
Murray won the 7-way Republican primary with 42% of the vote, defeating Bonini along with other candidates like Bryant Richardson and David Bosco.
In the general election, Murray faced incumbent Democratic Governor John Carney. Carney held significant financial and organizational advantages as the sitting governor.
Murray campaigned aggressively, positioning herself as an outsider who would shake up the political establishment in Dover. However, Carney’s incumbency and Delaware’s Democratic lean proved difficult to overcome.
On election day, Carney defeated Murray by over 20 points, 59.5% to 38.6%. However, Murray outperformed most recent GOP gubernatorial candidates in the state and established herself as an ascendant force in the Delaware Republican party.
Murray’s gubernatorial platform centered around traditional conservative policies including:
- Cutting taxes and government spending
- Reforming state bureaucracy and eliminating inefficiencies
- Improving technical education and job training
- Increasing school choice through charter schools and opportunity scholarships
- Toughening penalties for violent and repeat offenders
- Protecting 2nd Amendment rights
- Enacting new restrictions on abortion access
During her 2020 campaign, Murray completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, which provides additional insight into a candidate’s background and views. Some highlights from her responses included:
- Criticizing incumbent Democrats for making politics a priority over properly enforcing the law
- Emphasizing public safety and giving law enforcement the tools and resources they need
- Stressing fiscal responsibility and living within the state’s economic means
- Supporting more parental control in education
- Promoting a culture that values life and families
2022 Attorney General Campaign
In April 2022, Murray announced she would run for Attorney General of Delaware against incumbent Democrat Kathy Jennings. Murray criticized Jennings for politicizing the office and failing to fully prosecute crimes.
Murray was unopposed for the Republican nomination. Delaware’s unusual election laws allowed her to simultaneously run for Attorney General while still serving as the GOP gubernatorial nominee in 2020.
Facing Jennings in the general election, Murray once again portrayed herself as the law-and-order candidate who would get politics out of the Attorney General’s office. She attacked Jennings for supporting bail reform and declining to fully prosecute certain gun and drug crimes.
However, Jennings’ incumbency and political experience helped her defeat Murray by a 7-point margin, 54% to 46%. Murray won over 147,000 votes statewide, the best statewide result for a Delaware Republican since 2016.
Murray’s policy priorities as Attorney General candidate included:
- Toughening prosecution, especially for gun crimes
- Opposing efforts to end cash bail
- Backing law enforcement against activism and political correctness
- Cracking down on illegal immigration
- Investigating corruption and ethics violations on a nonpartisan basis
Murray once again completed the Ballotpedia Candidate Connection survey during her Attorney General campaign. Her responses indicated an intense focus on law and order issues. She emphasized prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law and providing staunch support for law enforcement officers.
Delaware Republican Party Chair
Despite her two unsuccessful statewide bids, Murray remained a rising star in the Delaware GOP. In April 2023, she was elected chairwoman of the Delaware Republican Party, defeating former Sussex County party chair Michael Harrington.
As party chair, Murray will oversee Republican political and organizational efforts across Delaware. Her energetic campaign style and conservative bona fides could provide a jolt of momentum for the state party ahead of the 2024 elections.
Based on her public statements, campaign materials, and voting record, Julianne Murray’s views on major policy issues can be summarized as follows:
Murray advocates tough law-and-order policies, including stringent penalties for gun crimes and repeat offenders. She staunchly supports law enforcement against charges of racism and police brutality. Murray opposes efforts to end cash bail or reduce incarceration levels.
Murray is an outspoken defender of 2nd Amendment rights who has earned “A” ratings from the NRA. She opposes all forms of additional gun control legislation.
Murray calls for reducing government spending across the board and lowering taxes to spur economic growth. She wants to audit state agencies to identify and eliminate waste.
Murray takes conservative stances on most social issues. She wants to restrict abortion access and supports religious freedom bills. Murray also opposes efforts to expand LGBTQ rights.
Julianne Murray resides in Lewes, Delaware with her husband Lee. They have three children together. She previously lived in Arizona before relocating to Delaware for law school.
In her free time, Murray enjoys fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities common in southern Delaware’s beach communities. She has said being outdoors recharges her from the rigors of politics and law.
In just a few short years, Julianne Murray has become one of Delaware’s most prominent Republican politicians. While she came up short in her two statewide campaigns, she established a reputation as an unflinching conservative committed to reforming the state’s bureaucracy and fighting for law-and-order policies.
As the new chairwoman of the DEGOP, Murray has an opportunity to shape the party’s direction and spread her small government, pro-police, traditional values message. Her energetic style and refusal to back down from political fights generate enthusiasm from the Republican base.
At just 52 years old, Murray still has a long political future ahead of her. It remains to be seen if she will make another run for statewide office, or help lead Republicans to their first gubernatorial victory in Delaware since 1992. Regardless of what comes next, Julianne Murray has established herself as a fiery voice for conservatism who shouldn’t be underestimated.
When did Julianne Murray first run for elected office?
Murray’s first campaign was in 2018 when she ran unsuccessfully for State Senate, losing to Democratic incumbent Bryan Townsend.
How did Murray perform in the 2020 Delaware Republican gubernatorial primary?
Murray won a 7-way GOP primary field with 42% of the vote, defeating rivals like State Senator Colin Bonini.
What happened when Murray challenged Governor John Carney in the 2020 general election?
Incumbent Governor Carney defeated Murray by a 59.5% to 38.6% margin, though she outperformed recent GOP candidates.
Why did Murray run for Attorney General just two years after seeking the governorship?
Murray saw Attorney General as an open seat opportunity in 2022 with no Republican incumbent. She could run while still appearing on the ballot for governor.
What are some of Murray’s notable policy positions and views?
Murray takes staunchly conservative stances favoring gun rights, opposing abortion, cutting taxes and regulation, and supporting tough law enforcement policies.