Gov. Phil Murphy had no further comment on yesterday’s Republican gubernatorial debate.
“I’m not paying any attention to politics and certainly not what we’re they’re going through,” he said. “We’re still focused on what we’re doing here today, but nothing more to add there.”
The governor did not say whether he watched or listened to the debate, though a source close to Murphy said he did not.
Two of the four candidates seeking the GOP nod to challenge Murphy in November, Hirsh Singh and frontrunner Jack Ciattarelli, attended a debate hosted by New Jersey 101.5 Tuesday evening. Two other candidates, former Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine and Hudson County pastor Phil Rizzo, did not qualify for the debate.
The sometimes-raucous debate saw the two trade barbs, with Ciattarelli saying Singh had accomplished nothing and was doomed to lose in November, while Singh called the former assemblyman a “left winger” and argued he’d be unable to energize a Republican base that still views former President Donald Trump as its leader.
A Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Democratic Governors Association, where Murphy is the immediate past-chairman, found the contest for the Republican nod is closer than expected, with Ciattarelli leading Singh by just six points, 29%-23%, with 38% of likely Republican voters still undecided.
The poll found more than seven-in-10 Republicans wrongly believe Trump won the election and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters was a false flag operation, and 69% said the pandemic was exaggerated to harm Trump.
Ciattarelli backed Trump’s policies but stopped short of endorsing the president himself, though he acknowledged Trump was the party’s standard bearer.
Singh wrongly said Trump won the election, while Ciattarelli acknowledged President Joe Biden as the election’s winner.