Retired U.S.Army General Mark A. Piterski has decided to challenge Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) in New Jersey’s 5th district after all.
The decision marks an about-face from last week, when Piterski announced he would run as an independent against Gottheimer and then decided one day later to drop out.
The former combat veteran cited his responsibilities as the Murphy administration’s top veterans official overseeing three state-run veterans homes.
He resigned his post as deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Department on Monday evening.
“I’m going to take a knee for the next 30 days,” Piterski told the New Jersey Globe late Tuesday evening. “Then I’m going to file.”
One of the facilities Piterski ran, the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home, is under scrutiny for an exorbitant number of deaths due to COVID-19 over the past few weeks.
Of the 228 residents of the Paramus facility, 189 have coronavirus, with an additional 14 awaiting the results of their tests. Eighteen residents are currently hospitalized, and 57 U.S. military veterans have already died of complications from COVID-19.
Among the 362 staff members in Paramus, 67 have tested positive and six others are pending the results of their testing. One staff member has died.
On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy named retired U.S. Army Col. Walter Nall to replace Piterski.
Piterski continued to praise his former boss on Tuesday night.
“I respect Governor Murphy and all he is doing during this pandemic,” he said.