Doug Steinhardt’s withdrawal from the Republican primary to take on Gov. Phil Murphy won’t push Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) back into the race.
“It doesn’t change my thoughts,” Bramnick said when asked if the former Republican state chairman’s departure would push him back into the contest.
The New Jersey Globe first reported Steinhardt was dropping his gubernatorial bid Monday evening. The Warren County Republican chairman said he was pulling out of the race, citing unforeseen professional obligations.
Bramnick, long considered a possible Murphy challenger, in December announced he would not seek the governor’s seat.
Steinhardt’s departure from the race makes former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli a clear favorite for the Republican nod. Perennial candidate Hirsh Singh is also running.
Though filing day is still months away, other candidates are running out of time to enter the race. They’ll have only days to file for the organizational line in staunchly Republican Ocean County, with deadlines in Hunterdon and Bergen Counties to follow on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, respectively.
Still, Bramnick did have some predictions about how Murphy would run his re-election campaign out of the governor’s fourth State of the State address Tuesday.
“This governor is going to rely on his work during COVID,” Bramnick said. “He’s going to rely on phrases such as ‘stronger and fairer,’ but he’s not likely to address the underlying issues that are causing people to leave this state and causing people not to be able to afford to live in this state.”