The Return of Jack Ciattarelli


MORRISTOWN – Jack Ciattarelli is tired of supporters telling him how sorry they are.

In fact, by now – a month after the election – he’s ready to “kick them in the shins.”

Appearing Wednesday night at the holiday party of the Morris County Republican Committee, Ciattarelli got robust applause when he was asked to say a few words.

No, no, Republicans should not be sad over the election, he told a few hundred celebrants in the Laundromat Bar, a subterranean watering hole on DeHart Street.

Ciattarelli said Republicans should be happy because the GOP had such a good election – making gains in the Legislature, winning many local races and scaring Phil Murphy half to death.

That record, of course, includes the toppling of the venerable Steve Sweeney by Ed Durr, a virtual unknown.

Unknown no more, Durr was invited to the party, but apparently couldn’t make it.

No matter, the crowd seemed delighted with Ciattarelli as the special guest. And as is the norm in politics, he was looking ahead. Not to 2025 when he plans again to run for governor, but to next November.

“We’re taking back some progressive seats,” Ciattarelli predicted, eying the midterms.

Speaking of 2022, a team of Republicans are already considering a challenge to Democrat Mikie Sherrill in CD-11.

At least four of them were at the party. That group included Larry Casha, Paul DeGroot, Phil Rizzo and Rosemary Becchi.

Going from last mentioned to first, Becchi, who ran in 2020, said she’s still mulling over another run. She lives in Short Hills.

Rizzo, of Harding Township, ran for governor this year as a Trump supporter and got about 25 percent of the GOP primary vote.

DeGroot is a former prosecutor who lives in Montville and Casha, an attorney from Kinnelon, is the county’s representative to the state Republican Committee.

Another prominent candidate is Tayfun Selen, of Chatham Township, who serves on the Morris board of commissioners.

The obvious unknown is what the district is going to look like after lines are redrawn in line with the 2020 Census. We should know that by January.

The district can change in many ways – a little bit here and there.

But the overriding question is, will it become more Democratic – in registration at least – than it is now?

Such political intrigue seemed most appropriate for a basement bar once known as the Dark Horse.

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