KENILWORTH – Voting is a big deal for Republicans.
Ever since Donald Trump claimed, and, in fact, continues to claim that last year’s election was “rigged,” some Republicans all across the land have been suspicious of voting itself.
And that popped up Tuesday evening when Jack Ciattarelli held a town hall at a veterans’ center in this Union County town.
A woman in the crowd of about 100 asked if the state uses Dominion voting machines.
Trump and his supporters have waged a sort of war against Dominion since last fall, The company is fighting back with lawsuits.
This can be a troubling matter for Ciattarelli. If some Republicans truly believe the game is crooked, why bother voting?
You can see the problem. Democrats, who have no concerns in this regard, are going to vote.
So, Ciattarelli did his best to put this problem to rest.
He said Dominion machines are used in Ocean County, which Trump won big last year.
He also pointed out that all 21 counties have boards of election with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Ciattarelli said he trusts those board members to oversee an honest election.
His bottom line: Voters should not care about machines or who owns them, just go out and vote!
This seems to be a critical time for Ciattarelli.
Phil Murphy is travelling the state inspecting flood damage and trying to comfort and deliver aid to residents. On Tuesday, Murphy was with President Biden in Manville
Ciattarelli, who holds no office, can’t by definition deliver anything of substance at the moment.
Still, he’s trying to make a point, criticizing Murphy for waiting too long to declare a state of emergency.
One problem with that line of attack is that a “state of emergency” is really a
bureaucratic action that has no immediate impact. It’s not as if a declaration from Trenton would have held back the rain.
No matter, this is a way for Ciattarelli to remain visible when his opponent is getting all the attention.
Other than voting and the storm, Ciattarelli stayed on familiar topics during his hour-long meeting with residents, all of whom seemed supportive.
He condemned Murphy’s liberal extremism and reiterated his support for the Second Amendment, pro-life measures and a revised school aid formula that he says would lower property taxes for many.
Asked specifically what executive orders of Murphy he would undo, Ciattarelli didn’t directly answer, but he did say that the incumbent has abused his power by issuing far too many orders.
Public polls show Ciattarelli behind by double digits and Democrats in the state outnumber Republicans by more than a million.
This doesn’t seem to trouble the GOP gubernatorial candidate.
“I’m not the sacrificial lamb of the Republican Party,” he said. “I’m in it to win it.”