Everything is political these days – even the Fourth of July.
A Jack Ciattarelli video this week – what he calls a Jack Chat – said, in effect, that fireworks displays being cancelled down the Jersey Shore are Phil Murphy’s fault.
How’s that for political spin?
If you can’t enjoy a fireworks show, blame the governor.
Before delving into the politics here, let’s consider some of the facts.
Independence Day fireworks have been cancelled in Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, Long Branch and Sea Bright.
The towns are different, but officials have expressed concern about social distancing and the sudden proliferation of so-called pop-up parties. These are events promoted on social media that can draw hundreds, if not thousands, of people within 24 hours.
Officials say the problem is that these gatherings, which often include drinking and pot smoking, can get rowdy very quickly.
The problem in itself is not necessarily political.
But, as we said, everything is political.
Ciattarelli says in his video that the lawlessness can be traced back to the governor.
“Welcome to Phil Murphy’s, New Jersey, folks,” Ciattarelli says.
Later, his campaign spokeswoman explained that the Murphy administration and outgoing AG Gurbir Grewal “have made it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs and keep communities safe.” She charged the Murphy administration with “scapegoating” and “practically disarming” police.
This point was reinforced by Mayor Paul Kanitra of Point Pleasant Beach, who has seen a few pop-up parties in his town. He said he thinks police no longer have the legal support statewide to do what they need to do to control crowds and stop unlawful behavior.
Looking at this from afar, it’s hard to see average people voting against Murphy just because there’s no July 4 fireworks in Long Branch.
Yet, it’s clear that crime is going to be an issue in this campaign.
Part of this is traditional.
Republicans have long tried to portray themselves as the party of “law and order.” That goes back to Richard Nixon.
Recall how the GOP used this strategy last year, trying to link all Democrats to the “defund the police” movement. The ploy didn’t work in New Jersey – all 10 incumbent Democratic House members were reelected. But Republicans did gain House seats nationwide.
Staying on the law and order theme, hundreds of rowdy people on one Jersey Shore beach is a sure sign of disorder.
Murphy’s campaign didn’t specifically comment on Ciattarelli’s video.