Jack Ciattarelli has caused a major rift in the New Jersey Republican Party, one so big that even the thought of removing Governor Phil Murphy from office might not be able to repair it.
After spending over $5,000,000 in attack ads against his opponents and their supporters during one of the ugliest New Jersey gubernatorial campaigns ever, Ciattarelli on Wednesday called for Republicans to rally behind him to defeat Phil Murphy. Ciattarelli also took a swipe at President Donald J. Trump.
After beating his two opponents, Hirsh Singh and Phil Rizzo, both jockeying for the loyal Trump base, Ciattarelli said, “Tonight New Jerseyans showed they are ready for a change, and we are just getting started.”
With his election win, Ciattarelli, who is no fan of former President Donald J. Trump took his victory as a signal that New Jersey Republicans need to put the Trump era behind them and move forward, behind him.
“The fact is, after four years of Murphy’s failed leadership, our state is struggling. New Jersey pays the highest property taxes in the nation. Small businesses have been decimated. 8,000 seniors and veterans died,” Ciattarelli said. “New Jerseyans from Cape May to High Point have been forgotten and ignored. We need a governor who puts New Jersey first. A governor who will listen to and respect everyone, even those who may disagree. This campaign is not going to be easy. Murphy will seek to divide us and he will do everything possible to distract you from his failed record. Here is my message for New Jersey tonight: come hell or high water, we will make New Jersey more affordable by lowering property taxes. We will create jobs. We will bring Main Street small businesses back to life. We will reduce the size and cost of government. New Jersey, we can do better. When I’m governor, we will.”
Trump has remained silent on Ciattarelli’s win. There was no congratulations or fanfare from the Trump campaign. Chris Russell, Ciattarelli’s campaign propagandist who manufactured and produced the negative and false narratives against his opponents has long been an opponent of Trump and Trump-supporting candidates.
Instead, Russell focused Ciattarelli’s messaging during the primary as a series of focus-fired attacks, most of which were not true, against his opponents Phil Rizzo and and Hirsh Singh. We reached out to Russell last week about the lies he turned into campaign advertisements, but he refused to respond.
Now, Ciattarelli and Russell will need to somehow convince all of his former opponent’s supporters to rally behind the candidate even after Ciattarelli refused to say whether or not he would back his opponents if he lost during the NJ 101.5 debate.
Both Rizzo and Singh conceded their defeat to Ciattarelli.
“Thank you so much to all of our amazing supporters: your labor and sacrifices were not in vain. This primary fight did not end as we had hoped, but the conservative movement has come through battle-hardened and with a taste for what is possible,” Rizzo said.
“Patriots, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your time and support. Our campaign and supporters are the future of the Republican Party. I am confident that our great movement will continue, and I look forward to future opportunities to serve the people of New Jersey,” Singh said. “Despite being a completely grassroots movement, we had a strong showing. We all must do everything we can to ensure Tyrannical Phil Murphy is a one-term Governor, and that conservatives retake the Assembly and State Senate.”
Neither of the opponents slandered by the Russell smear campaign offered an endorsement of Ciattarelli and neither urged their supporters to get behind the establishment candidate.
Ciattarelli now lags nearly 30 points behind Phil Murphy in a recent poll.
“Governor Phil Murphy currently has a clear path to reelection victory, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. When New Jersey registered voters are asked whether they would vote to reelect Murphy, consider voting for someone else, or definitely vote for someone else, 42 percent would definitely vote to reelect the governor. Twenty-one percent say they are on the fence, and 31 percent would definitely vote for someone else,” the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll said.
52% of voters in that poll said they would vote for Phil Murphy if the election were held today.