A senior adviser to the Ciattarelli for Governor campaign today confirmed that former state Senator Diane Allen of Edgewater Park will be Jack Ciattarelli’s pick for Lieutenant Governor. A former television news anchor who grew up in Moorestown, Allen served in the state senate from 1998 to 2018, representing the 7th Legislative District. She served as the Deputy Republican Conference Leader from 2002 to 2003 and as the Majority Whip from 1998 to 2001, and served in the assembly for a term before moving to the senate.
During her time in the state senate, Allen had a reputation as a respected and thoughtful lawmaker, and repeatedly stared down the BurlCo Democrats who tried to oust her. In 1995, Allen first won her Assembly seat in a district where the Democrats enjoyed a two-to-one advantage in voter registration. Subsequent to her move to the senate, her rivals could secure the assembly seats in Allen’s district, but they could not defeat her.
In the words of former NJTV anchor Jim Hooker: “Allen finds herself at the end of each Election Day tempering her own victory speeches in consideration of the crestfallen emotions of teammates exhausted and spent after giving their all.”
Governor Chris Christie considered her as a running mate in 2009 as well as then-Bergen County Executive Kathe Donovan, before finally deciding on Kim Guadagno, a fellow prosecutor. In the end, for his part, former Assemblyman Ciattarelli opted for a fellow Republican Trenton legislator, in Allen’s case a tested veteran.
Quiet insider jeers trailed the GOP nominee as he supposedly stumbled through lists of possible LG picks who didn’t work out, among them Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon, retiring Assemblyman Ryan Peters, and Assemblyman Antwan McClellan.
But as Ciattarelli’s choice of Allen ends months of speculation, it also confirms the seriousness and solidness of the Republican’s statewide candidacy – and his attempt to move to the center in time for the contest’s intensification.
“She hasn’t endeared herself to the pro-life movement,” that’s for sure, a Republican diehard told InsiderNJ.
Allen earned her B.A. in philosophy from Bucknell University, and her professional experience includes serving as the president of VidComm and on the board of directors for the United Way. Last year, Ciattarelli formally announced a campaign policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation to be overseen by Allen.
“My illness has shown me again just how much the good people of my district and the state care about others,” Allen said in the statement. “It’s impossible to express how grateful I am for their outpourings of caring, support and love.”
From NJ.com at that time: Last year, a bout with pneumonia resulted in Allen’s extended absence from Trenton. She said she is strategizing with her family and doctors to beat this latest illness.
“My plan is to return to the floor of the Senate at the first opportunity,” said Allen, the married mother of two grown children.
In 2017, as she finished her career in the senate, Allen received a 50% rating from the ACLU, a score of 29% from New Jersey Clean Water Action, an 83% from Planned Parenthood, and a score of 45 from the American Conservative Union Foundation – way behind the likes of state Senator Mike Doherty (86) and ahead of Kip Bateman and Jennifer Beck.
The senator did not back the 2016 presidential primary candidacy of Donald J. Trump, and at the time told PolitickerNJ that she was holding out for either Florida Senator Marco Rubio or Ohio Governor John Kasich.
“We know that people in Great Britain are not fond of him, and we really do need him to be able to get along with our allies and to be respected. At this point I don’t think he’s respected at all. We’ve already had a president who doesn’t seem to be really well respected,” Allen said of President Barack Obama. “I feel like the US is not holding the position that it used to hold in the world.
“He’s saying things in general that are reflecting a lot of feelings people have, but he’s saying it in ways that really concern me,” the senator added. “Some of the things he says I think are spot-on. It’s how he does it, how far he goes. He smears people, he says nasty things and then he quickly changes it back.”
Of Ciattarelli’s choice of Allen, state Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26), who served as Trump’s state co-director in 2016 and 2020, said, “Respected and qualified.”