CLINTON – A prison probably isn’t the best campaign photo-op, but if you want to accuse your opponent of ignoring the plight of women, nothing beats a female lock-up.
That was the view today of the newly-christened team of Jack and Diane.
“He takes care of the men, not the women,” said “Diane,” or more officially, Diane Allen, the lieutenant governor candidate on the ticket with Republican Jack Ciattarelli.
Jack and Diane introduced themselves in the morning in south Jersey – where Allen is from. Mid-afternoon found them, a bit incongruously in the parking lot of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Hunterdon County.
The “he,” of course, in Allen’s statement is Phil Murphy and on that score, the setting made perfect sense.
Reports of inmates being abused in what is the state’s only women’s prison have been around for years. But they reached a zenith a few months ago when there were reports of systematic beatings and other abuse of inmates. Criminal charges followed.
Still, the governor made no immediate move – at least publicly – to force out the state’s corrections’ department head. He eventually resigned and Murphy said the prison will be closed. Murphy was criticized, even by fellow Democrats, for not taking stronger action when the latest abuse reports surfaced.
And clearly, this is going to be a Republican campaign issue.
“He did nothing,” is how Ciattarelli described Murphy’s response to problems at the prison.
But that’s only part of the GOP’s women’s strategy.
You remember Katie Brennan?
A campaign worker for Murphy back in 2017, Brennan said she was raped by a fellow campaign associate.
No charges were ever filed against the alleged perpetrator, but the Brennan case sparked a series of bipartisan legislative hearings.
The hearings didn’t really get to the bottom of what happened to Brennan, but they did show an alarming incompetence by key Murphy staffers in handling the allegations.
Allen said the Brennan case is another example of Murphy ignoring women in need, apparently believing that the guy on top should always get the blame.
This is an interesting line of attack by Republicans.
It’s hardly a secret that women, generally speaking, are more friendly to Democrats than Republicans. Will these accusations against Murphy change that?
Democrats, for their part, are ready.
The state Democratic Committee today released a series of questions for Allen.
The questions wonder if Allen, who had a moderate reputation while serving in the state Senate, embraces some of the more right wing positions Ciattarelli has articulated on the campaign trail.
For example, does she oppose vaccines for such diseases as measles and mumps for school students? Does she support weakening gun laws?
Also, what does she think of Ciattarelli’s attendance at a pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally after last year’s election?
They didn’t forget about women’s rights either.
Does Allen think it was right to oppose “essential women’s health services,” which the Dems say she did many times when Chris Christie was governor.
Both parties know how to play the so-called women’s card.