Jack Ciattarelli is down 16 points in the latest Monmouth University poll and to make matters worse, 61 percent of respondents said they had no opinion of him.
For a guy who’s been campaigning for governor as he says, “up and down New Jersey, eight days a week,” it’s a problem that so many voters don’t seem to know him.
A lot of that has to do with New Jersey’s media landscape.
TV stations in New York and Philadelphia don’t really cover New Jersey politics and newspaper coverage is a pittance of what it was just a decade or so ago.
But Ciattarelli’s immediate problem is not analyzing the media, it’s getting voters to know him and to vote for him.
He thinks women are the key.
Studies show that women at times vote more frequently than men, so on one hand the strategy is sound.
Yet, women also lean Democratic.
Ciattarelli has a plan for that.
Today, he launched a website built around the following theme:
“Phil Murphy doesn’t stand for women. He stands on them.”
Prominently featured is Katie Brennan, who as a Murphy campaign worker back in 2017, said she was raped by a fellow worker.
The Brennan case was big news in 2018 and 2019. That seems like a different world, at least in terms of state politics. COVID didn’t exist and Phil Murphy was very much an anonymous figure to average people.
Nonetheless, the Brennan case prompted bipartisan legislative hearings, a short clip of which pops up on Ciattarelli’s website. It shows Brennan testifying about her rape allegation being ignored by various agencies and people, including the governor and the first lady.
Let’s separate politics from real life.
The hearings showed incompetence by Murphy associates in handling Brennan’s allegation, but not necessarily by the governor himself. Still, one supposes it’s legitimate to blame Murphy for the failings of his staff.
It’s also worth noting that criminal charges against Brennan’s alleged assailant were never filed.
Some of the other points on the website are not new.
One was raised more than four years ago and has to do with Murphy’s tenure at Goldman Sachs Asia. The allegation, which the now-governor denied at the time, was that Goldman Sachs invested in a Taiwanese-based company known for exploiting workers.
The website also focuses on news stories dating back to 2018 about soccer players on a women’s team Murphy bought into living in deplorable conditions. At the time, the governor said players deserve better.
Also mentioned are more recent reports of abuse at Edna Mahan correctional facility, the state’s only women’s prison. The state says the prison will be closed.
The website just appeared today, but the theme that Murphy treats women badly is not new. It surfaced, in fact, when Ciattarelli introduced running-mate Diane Allen a few weeks ago outside the gates of Edna Mahan.
Nothing subtle about the symbolism.
On that day, Allen said a lot of what is on the website.
Clearly, Team Jack is convinced there is political hay to be made with women.
An obvious question is how do Murphy’s alleged faults – some of which are not new – mesh with the governor’s support for such things as equal pay for equal work and expanding women’s health services?
The next poll may tell us.