In the race for New Jersey governor, Jack Ciattarelli is an unknown stranger | Mulshine
I was out walking the dog the other day when I met a neighbor who, like virtually every male in my Shore town, is a staunch Republican.
I was curious what he thinks of the upcoming election, where Democratic governor Phil Murphy will face Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.
“Who will run against Ciattarelli in the Republican primary?” he asked.
“Hm?” I answered. “Elementary school was in June. Ciattarelli has won. “
“Oh,” he said.
That coincides with the headline of a press release from the Monmouth University Poll yesterday about the upcoming elections.
“Murphy retains lead; Ciattarelli largely unknown. “
When I called pollster Pat Murray on the phone, he said the lack of interest in the Ciattarelli campaign was evident in a poll that asked whether respondents had a positive or negative opinion about the former Somerset County MP had.
50% of the respondents had no opinion at all. In the case of the current governor, it was only 16%.
At least that is how voters know who Phil Murphy is.
As for Ciattarelli, he is largely unknown to voters just six weeks before the November 2 elections. When asked whether or not Ciattarelli’s political views match those of most New Jersey residents, 68% of respondents said they had no idea.
The only good news for the Republican is that the Democrats’ attempts to portray Ciattarelli as a Donald Trump clone also didn’t have much impact, Murray said.
The same goes for the Republicans’ efforts to tie Murphy to Joe Biden, however, he said.
“That’s the typical inattentiveness of voters in New Jersey,” he said. “Ciattarelli could not imagine yet, but these results also mean that the Murphy campaign’s attempts to portray their opponents as extremists have not materialized either.”
In the poll, Murphy leads by a margin of 51 over 38. This shows a slight improvement for Ciattarelli compared to 52:36 in the August poll. But if Ciattarelli can’t do something to get the public to know about this race, then the big question is whether it is losing one or two digits.
“The obstacle Ciattarelli faced from day one is his inability to change the narrative,” said Murray.
There was a brief period when New Jersey politics was covered extensively by television networks and newspapers in New York and Philadelphia. But that era ended when Chris Christie left office. The days of 30 TV cameras at governors’ press conferences are over.
Back then, when candidates like Brendan Byrne, Tom Kean, Jim Florio and Christie Whitman were on the ballot, the governor race was often a real squeaker until election night. Newspapers across the state reported in detail on the races.
But most of these papers are gone. It’s hard to imagine nowadays that Ciattarelli could do anything to achieve this type of coverage – well, nothing good anyway.
There’s not much drama in the race for 120 parliamentary seats either. Right now it looks like just a seat or two will change hands, Murray said.
“We are so polarized that you are either in a safe Democratic or a safe Republican area,” he said.
One candidate in a safe Republican area is Tony Bucco. He’s the state senator in District 25, which is mostly in Morris County with a little bit of Somerset.
Bucco and his runners-up were targeted in a Democratic mailer with Photoshop images wearing red MAGA hats. The mailer identified them as members of “Trump’s Team”.
Bucco has told me that he is not worried about the effects of the mailers. Trump lost the solid Republican district with 10,000 last year, while Bucco won it with 11,000.
Trump will not stand for election this year, he stated.
“The political climate is much better than it was,” he said. “If we go door to door, we will no longer get people telling us that they hate Trump.”
Meanwhile, CNN’s Democratic website just ran an article entitled “This Poll Should Scare Democrats Before 2022”.
The poll in question showed that President Biden’s approval rate in Iowa had dropped to 31%, with a disapproval rate of 62%. So you can see why the Democrats there would be concerned about next year’s congressional election.
As for Jersey, we’re only one of two states that have gubernatorial elections this year. The other is Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin took the lead over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a highly competitive race.
But this race is covered extensively in the Virginia and DC media.
As for this race, at least my neighbor has heard of it.
Ciattarelli just needs to reach a few million other people.