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Nearly at the halfway point of Governor Phil Murphy’s tenure, Republican candidates are beginning to see the emerging shapes of candidacies in the now shapeless blocks of raw GOP materials ahead of 2021.
Here’s what one Republican source sees right now:
Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) is running.
Everyone knows that already.
He has his head down.
He starts with his home county of Somerset.
He can pull (presumably) Union, Hunterdon and Essex.
His allies have strong relationships in Burlington, Atlantic and Cumberland counties.
He’s ready for a dogfight in the other centers of party power.
Where will he have opposition?
A source told InsiderNJ the allies of Governor Chris Christie don’t love Ciattarelli.
They felt the Somerset-based assemblyman was tough on the governor as Christie limped out of office. Christie and company still fancy themselves capable of exerting a sturdy grip on the direction of the party.
They weren’t heartbroken when their old foe, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), lost to U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (R-11) last year and they find it hard to summon a sense of abject sorrow for a less than wholly party-supported Ciattarelli.
Where will they go?
A Republican source speaking on condition of anonymity told InsiderNJ that if President Donald J. Trump wins a second term, expect to see the Christie-era power put some force behind Bob Hugin.
You remember the name.
He ran against U.S. Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) last year and lost by double digits.
He’s still hanging around.
If Trump loses in 2020, he could make another statewide play. New Jersey usually runs counter to national elections.
Not an issue.
He’s got plenty. $38 million in 2018 alone.
Then there’s New Jersey Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt, who apparently sees a statewide run in
Around budget time at the beginning of the summer, the Christie brain trust made clear to Steinhardt that he can’t serve God and mammon both.
It’s either chair or a guv run.
It can’t be both at the same time.
Sources say Steinhardt, who continues to serve as Warren County GOP chair, leans toward going for governor in 2021.
Ciattarelli forces fear Christie would go with “Doug over Jack.”
A second source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, offered this: “Jack may be facing a rebellion at home too, not so much because of him, but because of discontent with the county organization. Note for example, Steinhardt headlining fundraisers in Bridgewater, Manville and Bernards.”
But again, Hugin, in the right weather (ie. Trump out of power) would be their first choice.
Then there’s Monmouth County Republican Chairman (and Sheriff) Shaun Golden.
“We’ve gotta keep an eye on Goldy,” said the source, acknowledging the proximity of Republican-potent Ocean County next door, and Golden’s apparent potential to pick up supporters of fellow Monmouth brand (and former LG) Kim Guadagno, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2017.
InsiderNJ asked the source who appeared in the best position to fulfill an LG option for the Republican nominee.
One name came back.
“Senator Kristin Corrado,” the source said, referring to the Totowa-based lawmaker from the 40th District.
“Look, there will be some looking at [Assemblywoman Holly] Schepisi, too, but I think the party looks at Corrado in part because she’s got that machine with her – Peter Murphy,” the source said, a reference to the Passaic County Republican chairman.
It’s a volatile situation.
The Republican said his party’s consensus opinion is not that incumbent Democratic Murphy (if indeed he runs again and does not get gobbled up in a Democratic presidential administration) is incompetent but that he doesn’t want to be here. But even a nationally-distracted Murphy would be tough for the GOP to beat, especially if Trump wins reelection in 2020 and continues to further alienate New Jersey.
- Bergen County GOP
- Bernards Township
- Bob Hugin
- Bob Menendez
- Cape May County GOP
- Chris Christie
- Donald Trump
- Doug Steinhardt
- Holly Schepisi
- Hunterdon County GOP
- Jack Coattarelli
- Jay Webber
- Kim Guadagno
- Kristin Corrado
- Mikie Sherrill
- Monmouth County GOP
- Morris County GOP
- NJ Democrats
- Passaic County GOP
- Peter Murphy
- Phil Murphy
- Shaun Golden
- Somerset County GOP
- Union County GOP
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