New Jersey gubernatorial race heats up following primary election
New Jersey’s gubernatorial election will take place in November. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy will face off against Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli.
Ciattarelli scored a decisive win in the Republican primary Tuesday night. Murphy ran unopposed on the Democratic side for a second term.
New Jersey has 1 million more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, and Murphy leads by double digits in the polls. Ciattarelli acknowledged that he is the underdog in the race.
“We can do this. Are you with me?” Ciattarelli asked supporters Tuesday night.
“It is a daunting task that's in front of him. It is a daunting challenge,” says Micah Rasmussen with the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
Ciattarelli beat two opponents who are pro-former President Donald Trump. Rasmussen says some pro-Trump Republicans are still skeptical of Ciattarelli.
RESULTS: New Jersey 2021 primary results
“There are certainly deep divisions within the party, and I think there is a skepticism among the Trump wing of the party about him, given his past statements on Trump,” Rasmussen says.
Murphy highlighted his accomplishments during his victory speech on Tuesday.
“In our 40 months, offshore wind, cannabis – anybody out there on that? Sports betting, film and television production from scratch,” Murphy said.
He also highlighted his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Ciattarelli says that the most important issue for New Jersey is property taxes.
“It’s the one tax that affects every person, whether you own or rent. It’s the one tax that affects every business whether you own or rent. Ours are the worst in the nation,” he said.
But Murphy says that Ciattarelli had the chance to address property taxes when he was on the state Assembly.
“He was in public service as an elected official when the property tax problem went out of control. We inherited the mess that he and his colleagues created,” Murphy said.
And thanks to Murphy’s millionaire’s tax, thousands of New Jersey families will get $500 each in property tax rebates this summer.
Rasmussen says that even with these accomplishments, the governor is not unbeatable.
“New Jersey is a state that has reelected Republicans, a state that has not reelected Democrats,” he says.
Ciattarelli now needs to select a running mate for lieutenant governor by July 22. By tradition he will also select the next chairperson of the state Republican party.