Somerset County Chairman Al Gaburo and State Sen. Kip Bateman endorsed Jack Ciattarelli’s gubernatorial bid Tuesday.
“I enthusiastically support Jack. I think he’s the one who can win. He’s been running since he lost two years ago. He’s everywhere,” Bateman said. “He’s got the message to fix New Jersey, and I think he’s the one who can beat Murphy, I really do, and I’m hopeful and I’ll do whatever I can to help Jack.”
Ciattarelli formally announced his candidacy for governor Tuesday, making him the Gov. Phil Murphy’s first official challenger.
Gaburo’s endorsement gives the former assemblyman backing from the Republican organization in one of the state’s 21 counties. That backing will be critical to a primary win, especially if Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt mount their own bids to challenge Murphy.
“I’m here to support Jack Ciattarelli. I supported him in 2017. I look forward to supporting him in 2021,” Gaburo said. “We grew up in the same hometown, went to this school together, and I’m really Excited. He’s exactly what the state needs.”
Gaburo added he was giving Ciattarelli a “full-throated” endorsement.
A number of other Republican county chairmen — Atlantic County’s Keith Davis, Burlington County’s Sean Earlen, Hunterdon County’s Pat Torpey and Camden County’s Rich Ambrosino — attended Tuesday’s launch, though most of them stopped short of endorsing Ciattarelli’s candidacy.
Davis, Earlen and Torpey all spoke favorably of Ciattarelli, though they demurred when asked if they endorsed the former assemblyman, saying they would let their county committee members weigh in on that decision.
“I think you saw with the speech today that he has the right message for the state of New Jersey, and I hope he’s successful,” Davis said. “We have our own process in Atlantic County, as you know. We’re going to adhere to that, but I’m here. I don’t show up unless I believe in someone, and I believe in Jack and his message and his candidacy, and I hope he’s successful.”