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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pro-biz GOPer Jack Ciattarelli gaining on duplicitous NJ Gov. Murphy: Devine

As President Biden’s reverse Midas touch ricochets around the nation, even in deep-blue New Jersey Democrats are nervous.

All attention has been on Virginia’s gubernatorial race, but the Garden State could be a sneaky upset, as polls have narrowed dramatically since August in what ­already is a barometer of national voter sentiment.

If anyone can pull off a long-shot win against Gov. Phil Murphy, it’s Jack Ciattarelli, a former state legislator and small-business owner, with a plan to drive down the cost of living.

The husky-voiced, Sinatra-esque Republican is targeting Murphy squarely on economic grounds, but also on the governor’s uber-liberal authoritarian bent, his reported secret vaccine mandate and woke brainwashing in schools.

“We’re not teaching sodomy in sixth grade,” Ciattarelli put it bluntly this summer.

Ciattarelli, 59, paints Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs multimillionaire, as “out of touch and tone deaf” with the concerns of voters.

He likes to say that New Jerseyans are “fiscally conservative and socially moderate,” so it doesn’t hurt that he once called Donald Trump a “charlatan” but applauded his policies as good for the country.

The number one issue is the soaring cost of living, and New Jersey’s taxes are the highest in the country.

The average Jersey property-tax bill hit $9,112 last year, twice the national average. Someone who owns a $400,000 house in Bridgewater or Parsippany pays $15,000.

This hefty burden is cited in surveys as a chief reason for retirees leaving the state and a disincentive for corporations to relocate there.

Murphy, 64, has been remarkably insouciant about the problem.

“If you’re a one-issue voter, and tax rate is your issue,” he said in 2019, “we’re probably not your state.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
Gov. Phil Murphy has choked out small businesses owners with his authoritarian lockdowns and skyhigh taxes.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool

Ciattarelli made the gaffe the centerpiece of a sharp, biting ad campaign.

“Who says that?” he asks. “High taxes are the reason why young people can’t afford to get started here, and why our grandparents are forced to leave.”

When Ciattarelli was growing up, “New Jersey’s economy was the envy of the other 49 states. We had the greatest numbers of Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, property taxes were reasonable and owning your own business was an American dream that could come true. That is not the case today.”

He points to an exodus of businesses from the state under Murphy. Nabisco moved out of Bergen County in July after 63 years.

The same goes for Honeywell, Mercedes Benz and the US Golf Association.

“It pains me that states like Delaware, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Texas are eating our lunch,” he says.

His plan is to fix the “arbitrary and unfair” state school-funding formula that drives up property taxes, halve the highest corporate tax rate in the country over five years, adopt Delaware bylaws for corporate governance, and make the first $50,000 of small-business income tax-free.

Gov. Phil Murphy at the annual annual Equality Ball - THE DELETED IMAGE. (
Gov. Phil Murphy is maskless at a teachers union fundraising event in spite of his strict mask mandates in New Jersey schools.
Essex County Educators Association

“We need to stop burdening small business with excessive regulations that make their success next to impossible,” he says.

Ciattarelli, whose grandparents immigrated to New Jersey from ­Italy 100 years ago, grew up in Raritan and raised four children in Somerset County with his wife of 27 years, Melinda.

His parents owned a local restaurant, Anthony’s, and the experience led him to become a small-business owner, founding two thriving medical-publishing companies. He became a Raritan councilman in 1990 before becoming a commissioner in Somerset County and serving in the state general assembly from 2011 to 2018.

“I understand New Jersey . . . I’ve worked in municipal, county and state government so I have a unique perspective on all that’s broken and how best to fix it.”

Murphy has plenty of vulnerabilities to exploit, not least the worst pandemic record of any governor. New Jersey had the highest rate of COVID deaths, higher even than New York. While Andrew Cuomo was rightly excoriated for his betrayal of nursing-home residents, across the Hudson River, Murphy had even more blood on his hands.

His administration was warned explicitly by nursing-home operators in recorded phone calls — which Ciattarelli has liberally sprinkled in his ads — that ordering nursing homes to admit COVID-infected patients would lead to unnecessary deaths. Sure enough, more than 8,600 residents and staff at nursing and veteran homes died, 35 percent of the state’s total COVID deaths.

Atilis Gym owners Frank Trumbetti, 51, left, and Ian Smith, 33, in the gym, where they have set up cleaning supplies, social distancing guidelines and limitations on how many can enter the gym. Atilis Gym has remained open, disobeying orders from the state and NJ Governor to close during the outbreak of Covid-19.
Atilis Gym owners Frank Trumbetti (left) and Ian Smith rightly defied Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown orders in Bellmawr, New Jersey last year.
Stephen Yang

Ciattarelli also faults Murphy’s capricious pandemic lockdown orders that “infuriated business owners, particularly on Main Street.

“If you had a jewelry store, he closed you down as nonessential, but the jewelry counter at Costco’s stayed open,” the GOPer said.

Then there are the bombshell videos released this week by Project Veritas in which Murphy campaign staffers disclose that the governor is hiding plans to implement a vaccine mandate and give millions of dollars to illegal migrants after the election.

Murphy campaign adviser Wendy Martinez tells an undercover reporter that the governor will implement vaccine mandates, “but he couldn’t do it before the elections, because of the independents and the undecided . . . because they’re all into the s–t, my rights, my s- -t . . . Right now is about him winning.”

Another Murphy staffer, ​Matthew Urquijo, was caught on camera saying: “Once you know we have a win he’s like ‘all right, guns blazing, like who cares? I’m in it, let’s do the mandates.’ ”

In another video released Wednesday, Martinez is recorded saying Murphy will wait until after the election to give millions more in aid to illegal aliens.

“We need to get him elected first . . . I think it’s $40 million and to designate that much at this point would be political suicide.”

A general view of a Nasibco plant as seen in Fair Lawn, NJ on August 13, 2017.
The Nabisco plant in Fair Lawn, New Jersey closed down last July, costing approximately 600 jobs.
Christopher Sadowski

Ciattarelli rules out any mandate if he is governor. “I am vaccinated. I strongly encourage people to get vaccinated, but I do not believe government has a right to tell people they have to take a vaccine.”

He says if the Project Veritas report is accurate, Murphy is guilty of “the ultimate hypocrisy.” 

Republican voters will need to come out in force Tuesday to give Ciattarelli a chance of winning.

Murphy was ahead by 16 points with registered voters in an August Monmouth poll, 52-36 percent. Ciattarelli had managed to close the gap to six points last week in an Emerson College poll, 50-44 percent.

By Wednesday, a Monmouth poll showed Murphy ahead by 11.

But in a state Biden won by 16 points, and where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 1.1 million, win or lose, the fact the race is this close has ominous implications for Democrats next year.

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