Does the middle of the road excite anyone?
Well, maybe Jack Ciattarelli.
The past – and future – gubernatorial candidate has just launched a political organization called “Mainstream Majority.” Its slogan is a map of the state covered almost entirely by a red blot.
The name doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, but Ciattarelli seems convinced there is wisdom in positioning yourself between the left and right wing extremes of both parties.
While he’s “mainstream,” others – like Phil Murphy – are “extreme.”
That’s the idea at least.
In an initial appeal for donations, Ciattarelli talks about shocking the political world last year by “nearly defeating Phil Murphy in a state that Joe Biden won by 16 points just a year earlier.” For the record, he lost by about 3 percentage points.
Not only that, Republicans won eight legislative seats and flipped more than a hundred local and county government seats; as he put it, the best night for Jersey Republicans in decades.
To Ciattarelli, who says he’s running again for governor in 2025, the lesson is clear:
“Voters want common-sense conservative candidates (who) focus on kitchen table issues.”
Those who remember last year’s campaign know that the kitchen table is a big deal with Ciattarelli. Recall that he mocked Murphy for ridiculing so-called kitchen table issues during one of the debates.
It is always hard to truly interpret elections, because it’s tough to get inside the minds of voters.
Some may argue that Ciattarelli did well last year because Democrats were lackluster about the election, meaning that many of those who voted were Republicans and conservatives annoyed with Murphy, COVID restrictions and even Biden.
Then again, it is true that Ciattarelli was in the middle of the pack – philosophically – when you look at Murphy on the left and the MAGA-like Republicans on the right. Ciattarelli won the nomination last June by beating two right wingers – Phil Rizzo and Hirsh Singh.
That wing of the party hasn’t gone anywhere, considering a number of right wing challengers to establishment Republican congressional candidates in this month’s primary, all of whom lost.
That, of course, is Ciattarelli’s point. Those on the political extreme can attract passionate supporters, but the reality is that in New Jersey, they can’t even win a Republican primary. See losses earlier this month by Ian Smith (CD-3), Mike Crispi (CD-4) and the aforementioned Rizzo (CD-7).
In appealing for money, Ciattarelli boldly predicts that cash can help “common sense, conservative candidates …. bring a true red wave to New Jersey.”
And to him, that would be exciting enough.