ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL (Yes, already) – Jack Ciattarelli was in Mountain Lakes this morning, headlining a “unity breakfast” of Morris County Republicans. who just went through a costly and truly nasty primary battle in LD-26.
Acting as both an optimist and a comic of sorts, Ciattarelli said he sees unity among all 1.4 million registered New Jersey Republicans, because they all want to get rid of Phil Murphy.
The governor, by the way, appeared about an hour or so later in Montclair to accept the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey.
Montclair, which leans left, is derisively called by some Republicans, the “People’s Republic of Montclair.”
Murphy sort of acknowledged that by saying that when he visits Montclair, he knows it’s going to be a “home game.”
It’s still more than four months before the election, but both candidates today were laying the foundation for what they need to do between now and November.
Ciattarelli needs not only for Morris Republicans to be unified, but for all Republicans across the state to be on the same page. That’s a real issue.
Ignore the posturing about Ciattarelli winning all 21 counties in New Jersey. He got only about 50 percent of the vote in a 4-person race.
Today, he said that things are coming together post-primary, noting that “Within five days, we raised more than a million dollars.”
He also touched on what he said could be Republican disgust with politics after the 2020 election.
Ciattarelli worried that some “might sit it out,” referring to the gubernatorial election. And that, he said, would be a terrible mistake for any Republican.
For Murphy, the Planned Parenthood endorsement, for which the governor said he was “deeply humbled,” is a big part of his reelection plan – strong support from progressive organizations.
In that vein, today’s event in the town’s Glenfield Park also included representatives of such public unions as CWA.
Murphy, who was introduced as an “unabashed” supporter of women’s reproductive rights, said he hopes to be able to eventually sign a bill that he says would preserve such rights even if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Abortion is always a dividing line between the two major parties and this measure is no exception.
Republicans oppose the pending bill and Ciattarelli says it’s evidence the governor is pushing a liberal agenda that’s out of step with New Jersey.
Murphy, who obviously disagrees, said today of Ciattarelli, “This guy is not pro-choice, he is pro-backward.”
One thing already being discussed is something that really means nothing – historical trivia.
Ciattarelli likes to point out – as he did again today – that a Democratic governor has not won reelection in New Jersey since 1977.
This is a constant GOP talking point, but that streak was also raised today by Democratic Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake, who was at the Montclair event.
She mentioned the streak and predicted it will end this year.
“We are going to reelect …. a Democratic governor,” Timberlake vowed.
Murphy knows polls have him in the lead, but cautioned supporters that the electorate can be “volatile”
That observation had the governor looking at European history. He said that Winston Churchill lost a race for British prime minister just a few months after helping win World War II.
Nothing can be taken for granted.
For his part, Ciattarelli told the Morris Republicans that they should look to 2019 for encouragement.
“Murphy lost the midterms,” Ciattarelli said.
That’s a fact, but the Dems lost only two seats in the Assembly.
Still, a loss, one supposes, is a loss.
Interestingly, Ciattarelli had a Churchill reference as well, paraphrasing one of his famous quotes.
Again referencing the 2019 election, Ciattarelli said, “That was the beginning of the beginning.”