Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli launched his first TV ad in his bid to unseat Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday, spending about $736,000 on a ten-day buy in all of New Jersey’s media markets slamming Murphy on high taxes in New Jersey.
The ad, “One Issue,” begins with a clip of Murphy at Rowan University in 2019: “And I would say this. If you’re a one-issue voter and tax rate is your issue, we’re probably not your state.”
The ad then features Ciattarelli making his pitch.
Script: “Not your state? Who says that? Phil Murphy just doesn’t get it, but I do. I am Jack Ciattarelli. High taxes are the reason why young people can’t afford to get started here. And why our grandparents are forced to leave. Here’s the thing: taxes are an issue for a lot of New Jersey families. But Phil Murphy saying if you don’t like it, you should leave is an even bigger one.”
Both candidates are taking public financing and have agreed to a general election expenditure limit of $15.6 million.
Ciattarelli is spending around $103,000 to air his ad on New York and Philadelphia network TV, limiting his buys to morning news broadcasts, the New Jersey Globe has learned. His $633,000 cable buy allocates $468,000 for North Jersey and $165,000 for South Jersey.
“New Jersey’s working families, retirees, and small businesses are being chased out by the highest property taxes in the nation, and young people who grew up here and want to stay can’t even afford to get started – it’s the biggest issue facing our state,” Ciattarelli said. “But Phil Murphy’s arrogant response is to tell people that if they don’t like it, they should leave. Who says that?! I will tell you who, an out-of-touch Wall Street guy who is too rich to care, and who doesn’t understand New Jersey. I’m running for Governor with a detailed plan to cut taxes and make our state more affordable. The first step is making sure Phil Murphy is ‘one and done in ’21.'”
Diane Allen, the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor, said that she never voted to increase taxes during her 20 years in the New Jersey State Senate, and would work with Ciattarelli to “reduce taxes, shrink the size and cost of government, and make New Jersey more competitive economically.”
“Governor Murphy telling people that if they don’t like high taxes they should leave proves he doesn’t understand the realities facing working-class families across New Jersey,” said Allen. “They don’t want to leave, they just want a Governor who will lower their taxes. Jack can and will.”
Murphy is not expected to begin his TV ads until after Labor Day.
Election Day is 12 weeks away, but vote-by-mail ballots will be sent out in around five weeks from now. Early in-person voting begins on October 23.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released two weeks after the primary election showed Murphy with a 15-point lead over Ciattarelli, 48%-33%. That’s nearly half the 29-point lead he had in a post-primary Monmouth University poll four years ago against then-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Guadagno lost by 303,527 votes, 56%-42%.
The last time a gubernatorial candidate made up 15 points between the primary and Election Day was in 1997. Gov. Christine Todd Whitman had a 16-point lead, 48%-32%, against State Sen. James E. McGreevey (D-Woodbridge) in June 1997. She wound up winning by 25,426 votes, 46.9% to 45.8%.
This story was updated at 9:18 AM with comment from Ciattarelli and Allen.