Ciattarelli’s victory is likely a relief for more moderate members of the New Jersey GOP establishment who saw their already minority party lose ground during Trump’s presidency as some once-strong Republican regions, including County of Originally from Ciattarelli, Somerset, in central Jersey, became Democrats. It also gives New Jersey Republicans a standard bearer that looks more like Republicans who have won statewide elections in the past.
New Jersey is the only state with an incumbent governor on the ballot this year. Murphy, who is running for a second term, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Ciattarelli faces long chances in his quest to defeat Murphy, a shameless progressive whose popularity rose when the coroanvirus pandemic ravaged the state. According to polls released this week, Murphy is heading into the general election campaign with a 55% approval rating and a 52% to 26% lead over Ciattarelli in a state that has about a million more registered Democrats than the United States. republicans.
Still, Ciattarelli is not being put off by his chances in November. New Jersey has not re-elected a Democratic governor since Brendan Byrne in 1977, as residents have shown willingness to vote for Republicans in state office while voting Democratic in statewide federal elections .
“In four decades, no outgoing Democratic governor of New Jersey has been re-elected. Not Jim Florio, not Jim McGreevey, not Jon Corzine. Guys, the same goes for Phil Murphy. He has one and finished in 21, ”Ciattarelli said during his victory speech.
While Trump – who camped for the summer at his golf club in Bedminster – has little to do with the governance of New Jersey and is officially a Florida resident, he has been a dominant stakeholder in the countryside.
Engineer and standing candidate Hirsh Singh and Pastor Phil Rizzo – Ciattarelli’s two main rivals for the nomination – have sought to appeal to the Trump base, including repeating false claims that the presidential election of the last year had been stolen. Trump’s false support for Singh even circulated online, prompting Trump adviser Jason Miller to denounce him on Twitter.
But Ciattarelli didn’t totally disown the former president and had to walk a tightrope to be neither too anti-Trump for the primary nor too pro-Trump for the legislative election in a deeply blue state. Singh and Rizzo gathered nearly half the votes in Tuesday’s election – indicating that Trump’s base is still a force in Republican politics, a Ciattarelli might not be able to afford to alienate in the election general.
Although he criticized Trump at the start of the 2016 presidential campaign, Ciattarelli softened his rhetoric after Trump was elected and said during the primary campaign that he supported many of the former president’s policies. When it emerged that he would face a more difficult challenge from GOP State President Doug Steinhardt, who was running as a pro-Trump candidate, Ciattarelli appeared at a rally ” Stop the Steal ”. (Steinhardt, a partner at a major New Jersey law firm, quit shortly after the Jan.6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol.)
Ciattarelli’s balance – and his role in the campaign against Murphy – could be a sign of things to come in 2022, when Trump will almost certainly be a factor in the midterm elections. Republicans seeking gubernatorial and other positions in the blue and bluish states must try to make their way through the primaries while remaining acceptable to the general electorate.
While Ciattarelli was the big favorite to secure the GOP nomination – he won the support of every Republican organization in the state county – he struggled more than expected and ran negative ads against Singh and Rizzo in the approach of Tuesday’s elections.
Ciattarelli, 59, is a CPA and former owner of a medical publishing and marketing company. He ran for governor in 2017, even after being diagnosed with throat cancer, but lost the nomination to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, whom Murphy defeated.
He blamed Murphy for his handling of the pandemic and blamed the governor for the thousands of deaths at New Jersey nursing homes and businesses that were forced to close. Ciattarelli also frequently hits Murphy on his Massachusetts roots, pointing out that his family has been in New Jersey for a century.
“He wasn’t brought up here, never went to school here, never worked here, never ran a business here. It’s someone else. I am you. I want to say, have you seen this guy eat pizza?“Ciattarelli told supporters on Tuesday evening. “How about we elect a guy from Jersey?” “
Despite being considered a moderate when he was in the assembly, Ciattarelli made conservative policy proposals such as encouraging governments to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, adopting a voter identification requirement, Relax restrictions on concealed wearing permits and impose new restrictions on abortions.
He also touched on issues that have been the cornerstones of New Jersey Republican politics for decades, such as overhauling the school funding formula and seeking increased educational assistance to urban and suburban districts. , which has been made difficult by a series of state Supreme Court rulings that impose a number of poor, mostly urban, neighborhoods receiving a large portion of state aid.
Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany under the Obama administration, was largely unknown to many New Jerseyers until the pandemic bolstered his profile. His campaign has previously indicated that it will focus heavily on Ciattarelli’s favorable words to Trump and pair him with former Governor Chris Chrisite, who Ciattarelli quarreled with.
“The truth is on the ballot. We make decisions based on the truth. Science, data. Watch the proceedings from across the aisle in this Republican gubernatorial primary, ”Murphy said in a speech Tuesday. “These people made decisions based on a bunch of lies, made on myths, or they put their finger in the air and saw which way the political wind is blowing, we’ll never do that, guys.”