Jack Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, is set to challenge New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy in November after he clinched the Republican nomination for governor in the primary election on Tuesday.
Fifty-nine year-old Ciattarelli won more than 49 percent of the vote in the Republican primary with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting, and he defeated his fellow GOP challengers — Philip Rizzo, Hirsh Singh, and Brian Levine — most of whom aimed to be closely associated with the agenda of former President Donald Trump.
Ciattarelli, a Somerset County native, was seen as a well-funded candidate in the primary race, raising $7 million as his challengers failed to hit the $1 million mark in fundraising. He also received endorsements from all 21 county Republican organizations in the state.
Much of Ciattarelli’s campaign focused on Murphy’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic — the strict implementation of face masks, nursing home deaths, and school closures.
Ciattarelli served for five years on Raritan’s Borough Council and was later a Somerset County Freeholder. Following his position as a freeholder, he left to join the legislature, giving up his Assembly seat to run for governor in 2017. He lost that race to then-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, 31 percent to 47 percent.