At a Wednesday campaign rally in Moorestown, Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli officially unveiled former State Sen. Diane Allen as his running mate, previewing her role on the campaign as a defender of women’s rights and an aggressive voice against Gov. Phil Murphy.
In front of a “Jack & Diane” sign, Ciattarelli ran through many of the issues on which he and Allen are campaigning – lowering taxes, fighting against sexism, and supporting law enforcement – before lauding Allen herself.
“I could not be prouder to share the ticket with someone who has to offer all that Diane has to offer,” Ciattarelli said. “Someone recently said to me, if there was a Mount Rushmore of legislators in New Jersey, Diane Allen would be on that Mount Rushmore.”
Ciattarelli also highlighted Allen’s history of winning in a heavily Democratic Senate district, much like Ciattarelli himself did in his own Assembly seat.
“Diane has spent her career in public service fighting on behalf of people who are forgotten, overlooked, or ignored,” he said. “In so doing, she repeatedly won a heavily Democratic district time and time again. Six times, she’s won elections where Democrats outnumbered Republicans.”
“New Jersey, allow me to introduce a lifelong New Jerseyan; a former Miss Burlington County; a daredevil hang-glider who won the national championship in 1973; a judo expert; a national swimming champion; a pilot,” Ciattarelli concluded. “But you know what else she is? The next lieutenant governor of the state of New Jersey!”
Replacing Ciattarelli at the podium, Allen began by recounting her own history in Moorestown as a former state senator and television journalist in Burlington County.
“This is actually my second campaign I’m launching from Moorestown. My first campaign was more than 50 years ago. I was running for the school board in Moorestown, I was 21 years old, and I thought that if you wanted to serve and you had some good ideas, that people might be interested in having you join the school board,” Allen said. “Well, there were six people running, and at first it appeared that I came in sixth, but it actually was seventh because there were some write-ins.”
Allen added that she thought sexism may have played a role in her campaign loss, and that women have long been pushed to the side in politics.
“They said it just wasn’t my time,” she said. “I’ve got to tell you, women have heard that a lot in politics – in fact, in a lot of things. Jack Ciattarelli says this is my time, this is our time, and we’re going to do it.”
Even beyond her career in politics, Allen has experienced the consequences of being a woman in a male-dominated world. After her abrupt termination from television journalism, Allen sued CBS on charges of sexism and age discrimination and won.
The treatment of women under Gov. Phil Murphy was a major theme in Allen’s speech, which referenced Katie Brennan, a state official who accused Murphy campaign aide Al Alvarez of rape; Julie Roginsky, an aide who called Murphy’s 2017 campaign a “toxic workplace environment”; and the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, which was shaken by a series of rapes and attacks before being closed by Murphy this June. Ciattarelli and Allen plan on making a campaign appearance at the facility later today.
“It seems that all the women in [Murphy’s] orbit are put aside, they’re thought of as less than, and the men seem to always be taken care of,” Allen said.
If Allen were to be elected, however, she would be replacing a fellow trailblazing woman: current Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, a former Assembly Speaker whom Murphy chose for his ticket in 2017 and who is the highest-ranking person of color to ever serve in the state government.
Like Ciattarelli, Allen emphasized the need to lower the state’s taxes and improve the state government’s responsiveness, before concluding on a message of unity.
“We have a great place here, my friends,” she said. “This is an amazing place. And we can get it back to where it was – it can fulfill its promise – if we work together, and if we elect this man governor.”
The Ciattarelli-Allen ticket faces what polls show to be a difficult campaign against Murphy and Oliver this November. The most recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University that showed Murphy with a 15-point lead, 48%-33%, against Ciattarelli in June.