Word is that Republican gubernatorial nominee Kim Guadagno is considering naming Jack Ciattarelli as her running mate for lieutenant governor. That would be a superb move on the part of the present Lieutenant Governor. It would significantly bolster her property tax message and go a long way towards removing the Trump-Christie albatross.
I was critical of the Lieutenant Governor during the primary because I felt that her message on the most significant issue, property taxes, as compared with Jack’s, was ineffective. I still feel that way. Kim has outstanding communication skills, but even a great communicator needs a compelling message.
Guadagno overcame Jack’s better message with her monetary and party organizational advantages. If she adopts the Ciattarelli education funding formula /property tax message, she has the potential of cutting deeply into Democratic suburban support. And with both Kim and Jack singing from the same property tax song sheet, the music of the Guadagno-Ciattarelli ticket would rouse genuine enthusiasm from grassroots Republicans throughout the state.
If Kim nominates Jack as her running mate, it would be highly effective in removing the Christie albatross. No Republican official has been more critical of Chris Christie over the past eight years than Jack Ciattarelli.
The mammoth Christie albatross grows even heavier now that Christie has become Trump’s most prominent and ludicrous defender. Both Kim and Jack refused to endorse Trump in the 2016 general election campaign, a fact that would receive major publicity this autumn. Neither Kim nor Jack will have the burden of supporting a president under ethical siege, as did Nixon supporter Charlie Sandman, the landslide loser to Brendan Byrne in 1973.
A Guadagno-Ciattarelli ticket would consist of two profoundly decent, ethical, and competent individuals, with outstanding families. Above all, they are Main Street people, whose values and lifestyle contrast sharply with those of Wall Street Phil Murphy – at a time when Wall Street is highly unpopular on the American scene.
Finally, there is the geographic factor. In order for the GOP to prevail in a gubernatorial race, the ticket must garner huge margins in two areas: 1) Ocean-Monmouth; and 2) the Northwest Quadrant, consisting of Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, and Sussex counties. Kim from Monmouth and Jack from Somerset is the perfect GOP ticket, geographically speaking.
So a Guadagno-Ciattarelli ticket could prove to be most competitive against Phil Murphy, regardless of whom he selects as his running mate. The only problem is that it is virtually impossible to fit the words “Guadagno-Ciattarelli” on one bumper sticker. But a bumper sticker with the words “Kim and Jack” will do just fine.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.