Did NJ Gov. Call Rep. Matt Gaetz ‘Matt Putz’?

The politicians traded a few barbs after word got out about a maskless gathering of young Republicans in December 2020.

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Image via Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz the name "Matt Putz" and a "fool."


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On Dec. 4, 2020, the Call to Activism Facebook page posted a meme that claimed New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz “‘Matt Putz’ and a ‘fool’ who should stay out of New Jersey after Gaetz ignored NJ COVID rules.”

It is true that Murphy called Gaetz “Matt Putz” and also referred to him as a “fool.” Video of the moment was posted on Twitter. The “Matt Putz” moment comes at the 1:01 mark:

That video was also retweeted by the account for @GovMurphy:

Murphy’s account also tweeted the name “Matt Putz”:

NBC New York reported on the story, writing that it was out of character for the governor to go after another politician in such a manner:

Phil Murphy, New Jersey’s ordinarily mild-mannered governor, had strong words Friday for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and a group of New York City Young Republicans who held a gala event in Jersey City in violation of social distancing rules.

The event was held Thursday night, and photos on social media show a tightly packed crowd — with no masks — surrounding Gaetz, who represents part of the Florida Panhandle and who was apparently a guest of honor at the event.

“That guy in the middle, the tall, handsome fella in the gray suit, that is Representative Matt Putz – oh sorry, Matt Gaetz, and based upon his past performances, it is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him,” Murphy said at a news conference. “He was actually Sarah Palin’s backup act for this event.”

It’s true that Gaetz attended a gala with the New York Young Republican Club, and he was pictured maskless with others at the event. While Gaetz was a guest speaker, the keynote speaker was listed as James O’Keefe of the conservative activist group Project Veritas.

Gaetz published a number of tweets in response to Murphy’s calling him out, including one that said: “You’re gonna regret this tweet when you move to Florida like the rest of New Jersey.” He also said he would be returning to New Jersey in the future.