LIVINGSTON – Jack Ciattarelli was wrapping up an event with about 35 business people and entrepreneurs at the lavish Crystal Plaza this afternoon when the last question was clearly the best.
Knowing that functions of this type generally attract supporters – and only supporters – the query was about how Ciattarelli plans to reach those outside the established Republican circle.
The same question also can be asked of Democratic candidates, but the terrain is not the same. Phil Murphy probably can win reelection on the strength of Democratic voters alone; Ciattarelli can’t – not in a state where Dems outnumber Republicans by a bit more than a million.
Ciattarelli gave an answer that will remind people of a certain age and inclination of the original TV show Star Trek.
He said he has been going – and will continue to go to places – where no Republican has gone before.
Or at least, where they typically don’t go.
Just recently, Ciattarelli said he met with African American leaders in very-Democratic Englewood and attended a parade along very-Latino Bergenline Avenue in North Bergen. No place in the state is as Democratic as Hudson County.
He also mentioned campaign ads running on TV and in the papers.
“I don’t mean the Star Ledger,” he said.
Ciattarelli explained that his campaign is running ads in ethnic newspapers around the state in hopes of picking up voters who would not ordinarily vote Republican.
That’s not all.
Given the fact, it’s no longer 1965, Ciattarelli said, “It’s all about digital, digital, digital.”
He said the campaign is gearing its digital campaign messages to specific ethnic groups and demographics.
In truth, this is hardly inventing the wheel stuff. Democrats do the same.
After chatting informally with guests, the candidate gave his basic stump speech with a few alterations, one of which had to do with last week’s debate.
Who won the debate is a matter of subjective analysis, but at times Murphy did seem a bit agitated.
“In my opinion, Mr. Murphy doesn’t like to be challenged,” Ciattarelli said.
The candidate took credit for forcing the governor to eventually say there will be no new taxes under a second Murphy administration.
This also gave Ciattarelli an opportunity to talk about tax increases occurring in Murphy’s first term, including a higher corporate business tax and higher income tax rates.
A second debate is on tap for next Tuesday.
Politics aside, Ciattarelli also has baseball on his mind.
Fans will recall that Ciattarelli needled Murphy, a Red Sox fan, last week after the Yankees swept three games from the Bosox.
The stakes are higher tonight when the teams meet in a one-game playoff. The winner advances; the loser goes home.
Anticipating his next face-to-face with Murphy, Yankee-fan Ciattarelli said, “I’m praying to God, I don’t have to eat crow.”