RARITAN – Within 30 minutes or so, Jack Ciattarelli’s concession event today suddenly morphed into a campaign announcement for 2025.
The defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate had just admitted he had no path to victory and that the gap between him and Phil Murphy was too wide to warrant a recount. So he called the governor this morning to congratulate him and he said they had a nice chat. For the record, Ciattarelli is almost 74,000 votes behind Murphy.
Ciattarelli was asked by a reporter what’s next for him and, at first, he was a bit coy.
He talked about how four years ago he was asked that question and said he planned to run for governor in 2021. Some party pros told him that’s not the way to do things. You need an “exploratory committee,” he said he was told.
No, Ciattarelli said. The people of New Jersey don’t go for stunts like that.
He then asked the reporter to try the question again.
The journalist complied and asked point blank if he was planning another gubernatorial run in four years.
“That is my plan,” he said, thereby sending a crowd of supporters in town hall into a cheering frenzy. Some had been teary-eyed as Ciattarelli acknowledged his 22-month campaign was not going to make him governor.
“I hate to lose,” he said.
But Ciattarelli said he was delighted by a number of down-ballot wins by the GOP.
He called his campaign “exhilarating,” and began reciting some of the issues he talked about starting back in January of 2020. They included high property taxes, a need for schools to teach the basics and a general need to fix a “broken state.”
No one knew at this moment in time that Ciattarelli was also likely previewing his next campaign.
Speaking of which, four years is a long time and who knows what the state’s political landscape is going to look like by the time we get to the June, 2025 primary.
By that time, we will have had a midterm election, a presidential election, and last, but certainly not least, a new Democratic candidate for governor.
Before the crowd began dreaming about a “Gov. Ciattarelli” in January, 2026, there was still the matter of this election to put to bed.
Throughout his campaign, Ciattarelli urged his supporters to ignore any thoughts about fraud and to vote.
He did so again today and he admitted that Republicans have to do a better job with mail-in ballots. which now lean heavily to the Democrats.
In response to varied social media conspiracy theories, Ciattarelli said, “I see no proof this election was stolen.”
A bit earlier, Ciattarelli reminded his listeners that many thought he had no chance in a state where Dems outnumber Republicans by almost 1.1 million.
“We almost did win,” he said a bit wistfully.