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New Jersey Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt speaks at a rally for President Donald Trump in Wildwood on January 28, 2020. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Steinhardt drops out of GOP gubernatorial race

Ex-GOP State Chairman cites ‘unforeseen professional obligations’ in decision to leave race

By David Wildstein, January 11 2021 6:52 pm

Doug Steinhardt has dropped out of the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination clearing the field for Jack Ciattarelli to take on Gov. Phil Murphy.

“Last month, I was thrilled to announce our campaign for Governor, and the positive response from grassroots activists and donors has been overwhelming,” Steinhardt said  “While our strong standing in this race make this decision even more heart-breaking, unfortunately, unforeseen professional obligations have made it untenable for me to continue in this race as a candidate for Governor.”

Ciattarelli praised Steinhardt in a bid for party unity.

“I want to commend Doug for his commitment to the Republican Party and for his efforts to hold Phil Murphy accountable,” Ciattarelli said.  “I look forward to working with him to make sure Phil Murphy is One & Done in ‘21!”

The former Republican State Chairman reassessed his candidacy in the days following a protest at the U.S. Capitol last week.

Steinhardt has made his support of the President Donald Trump a focal point in his race against Ciattarelli, who had refused to back Trump in his 2016 campaign.

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and briefly occupying the U.S. Senate chambers and the office of the Speaker of the House.   Two U.S. Capitol Police officers have died, as well as four protestors.

His December 11 campaign announcement video touted his support of Trump, saying that “some cut and run from our president, hoping you wouldn’t notice, while others were never there in the first place.”

A second video, released on the morning of the U.S. Capitol rally in opposition to the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, slammed Ciattarelli for opposing Trump.

Steinhardt thanked his backers.

“To everyone who supported our campaign, thank you.  Your message was heard loud and clear, and you do have a voice,” said Steinhardt. “Together we will rise above, and we will ultimately Take Back New Jersey.”

The window for another candidate to enter the race in quickly closing, with filing deadlines to seek organization lines in the two counties with the most number of registered Republicans coming up quickly.

Ocean County requires letter of intent to be filed by Saturday and Bergen on February 1.  Hunterdon has a January 29 deadline.

Former Franklin Mayor Brian D. Levine announced an exploratory committee on January 1.  Businessman Joseph Rudy Rullo and perennial candidate Hirsh Singh have already announced their candidacies.

Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman who finished second in the 2017 GOP primary for governor, has already claimed enough endorsements to essentially clinch organization lines in Atlantic, Bergen and his home county of Somerset.

Additionally, Ciattarelli has won some support in Bergen – where 24 GOP municipal chairs have publicly declared their endorsements – and in Morris.

Despite calls for Trump’s removal and impeachment, a Quinnipiac University poll released today shows that Republicans nationally still support the president.”

Trump has a 71%-20% approval rating among Republicans, with 73% of Republicans believing there was widespread voter fraud in the presidential election and 77% saying that democracy is under threat.

Seven out of ten Republicans think that GOP Senators and House members who sought to stop the certification of Biden’s election were acting to protect democracy, while just 23% say they were undermining it.

Still, 70% of Republicans view the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week as undermining democracy rather than protecting it.

This story was updated 8:06 AM with comment from Ciattarelli. 

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