Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign pressed Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli on his attendance at a “Stop the Steal” rally in a bid to tie him the party’s right wing.
“Nearly two months after the violent attacks on our Capitol, Jack Ciattarelli continues to deliberately mislead voters as to why he participated in a rally that was literally advertised as ‘Stop the Steal.’ It’s the same extreme and demonstrably false propaganda that fueled dangerous conspiracy theories about the 2020 election,” Murphy campaign spokesman Jerrel Harvey said. “Voters deserve to know if Jack stands with violent and radical extremists, or with the people of New Jersey.”
The former Assemblyman is the clear frontrunner for the Republican nod. He faces former Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine, businessman Joseph Rudy Rullo and perennial candidate Hirsh Singh.
Former Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt was viewed as the other half of a two-man race, but he dropped out of the contest shortly after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed Congress on Jan. 6.
Ciattarelli spoke at the December rally, held near former President Donald Trump’s Bedminster golf club and named for his false claims about election fraud, but said he did not engage in election denial.
“Let me be clear: I’ve publicly congratulated Joe Biden for being elected our President, never alleged the election was stolen, and was appalled at the attempted insurrection,” Ciattarelli said in a statement. “Governor Murphy can’t credibly dispute any of those facts. He can spew all he wants. NJ voters know BS when they hear it.”
The Republican sought to turn the attack around by launching his own, taking aim at the governor’s response to the pandemic.
“Phil Murphy is desperate to talk about anything other than his record of sending 8,000 seniors and veterans to their death in our nursing homes, vaccinating prisoners before teachers, keeping our children out of school, raising our taxes, and destroying small businesses,” he said.