Jack Ciattarelli Tabs Former New Jersey Assemblywoman Diane Allen as Running Mate

By: Katie Francis, Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern

Photo: Jack4NJ

BURLINGTON COUNTY, N.J. — Jack Ciattarelli, New Jersey’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, has selected Diane Allen as his running mate for the upcoming election.

Ciattarelli announced last Wednesday that Allen will return to politics as his running mate and Republican lieutenant governor.

The Republican ticket, now running under the tagline “Jack & Diane,” is up against the Democratic team of Governor Phil Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, which has its eyes set on a second term. The new tagline is a reference to John Mellencamp’s 1982 hit song of the same name.

In his announcement, Ciattarelli described Allen as a “champion for equality and a trailblazer for women’s rights,” which is well reflected in her former political roles in the state.

After representing the 7th legislative district in the New Jersey Assembly for two years, Allen served as a member of the New Jersey Senate from 1998 to 2018. As Senator, she fought against compensation discrimination in the workplace based on gender.

At the beginning of his term in 2018, Murphy signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act. The act, named after his current competitor’s running mate, reversed former Governor Chris Christie’s vetoes against equal pay for women in the state.

Ciattarelli’s decision to pick Allen as his running mate was initially praised by many as a sensible, down-the-middle choice. After a primary election heavily clouded by pro-Trump rhetoric from candidates like Hirsh Singh and Phil Rizzo, the Republican nominee has made a conscious effort to distance himself from the far-right. Choosing Allen as his potential lieutenant governor further distances Ciattarelli from the controversial former President.

However, Allen made waves over the weekend when she attributed the recent spread of COVID-19 to immigrants coming to the United States. She made the remarks, which push the false claim that migrants are solely responsible for the uptick in COVID-19 cases, during a radio interview with the New Jersey Globe. Allen was criticized for veering towards that far-right end of the spectrum after initially being touted as a moderate.

“I mean, right now look at all these people with COVID who are coming across the border, and it scares me,” Allen said. “They’re put on buses. I suspect some of them are coming up to New Jersey — not a good idea. The people who are pulled over from the border who are carrying illegal guns or drugs, or whatever. So there’s a lot of things going on that I didn’t want to see go on, and that was the reason that I voted for Trump.”

The 2021 New Jersey gubernatorial election will take place on November 2.

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.