Jack Ciattarelli Fires Shots at Gov. Murphy Almost Immediately After Winning GOP Primary

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

Photo: Jack Ciattarelli for Governor

SOMERSET, N.J. — Jack Ciattarelli wasted no time before taking public jabs at Governor Phil Murphy following his victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary election.

Mr. Ciattarelli, who won the nomination for this year’s gubernatorial election by a comfortable margin, went after just about everything he could regarding New Jersey’s current governor — including (but not limited to) Gov. Murphy’s Massachusetts roots, the vacation property he owns in Italy, and even the way he eats pizza.

“Fix the damn state,” Mr. Ciattarelli said during his victory party, which took place at The Imperia in Somerset. “Here’s Phil Murphy’s problem: He wasn’t raised here, never went to school here, never owned a business here. He’s somebody else. I’m you. I mean, have you seen this guy eat pizza? … New Jersey is where I vacation — on LBI — while Phil Murphy jets off to his villa in Italy. This is where I root for the Yankees, while Phil Murphy is cheering for the Red Sox.”

Current polls indicate that Mr. Ciattarelli has an uphill battle to fight if he wants to unseat Gov. Murphy in November. The general election won’t take place for 146 days, but Gov. Murphy holds a big lead in the race, according to a poll released by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. Of the 1,004 New Jersey adults who responded to the poll, 42% said they’d definitely vote to reelect Gov. Murphy in November, while an additional 21% said they’re on the fence. Thirty-one percent of those polled said they would definitely vote for someone else.

In addition to the voting deficit Mr. Ciattarelli faced in this poll, he also has a name recognition deficit to overcome. Winning the GOP primary will likely boost his name recognition throughout the state, but 52% of those polled said they didn’t know who Mr. Ciattarelli is. An additional 26% of those polled said they have no opinion on Mr. Ciattarelli, and the remaining chunk of those polled had a mixed opinion on the GOP candidate (12% viewed him favorably, while 11% did not).

Mr. Ciattarelli defeated pastor Phil Rizzo, engineer/longtime public office hopeful Hirsh Singh, and former Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine on Tuesday to earn the right to face off against Gov. Murphy in November’s general election. Although no one else in the field won more than 26% of the total votes counted, former President Donald Trump’s influence on this election was apparent, as Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Singh — the two “MAGA” candidates running in this race — combined to win more than 47% of the total votes counted.

Neither Mr. Rizzo nor Mr. Singh had followed in their idol’s footsteps and claimed that their defeat in this primary was false or invalid as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. In fact, neither had posted anything on Twitter regarding the result of the election at the time of publication of this story. Since President Joe Biden was declared as the winner of November’s Presidential Election, Donald Trump and his supporters — particularly Mr. Singh, who proudly boasts his “TRUMP WON” hat in several photos posted on Twitter — have made a habit of echoing the false claim that Mr. Trump had the 2020 election stolen from him. (Update: Phil Rizzo tweeted a concession at 12:39 p.m. on Wednesday.)

At any rate, Mr. Ciattarelli’s focus will now shift on defeating Gov. Murphy in November. Some South Jersey residents are concerned about the GOP candidate’s background as a career politician from North Jersey, but if his remarks made during Tuesday night’s victory party are any indication, Mr. Ciattarelli will try to convince the masses that he’s a true New Jerseyan.

“[Phil Murphy]’s not New Jersey,” he said. “And in January 2022, he’s not our governor.”

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