STATEN ISLAND, NY – New Jersey Republicans aren’t quite sure what the message is coming out of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s Save America PAC after he sat on the sidelines in a brutal GOP primary for Governor.
In that race, Trump snubbed all three candidates, Jack Ciattarelli, Hirsh Singh, and Phil Rizzo, but today he made an endorsement in a Staten Island Borough Council primary election.
“It is my great honor to endorse Vito Fossella for Staten Island Borough President. He is strong, tough, loves our Country and truly loves the Great People of Staten Island—a powerful voice against crime and all other things going wrong in the city that we love. Vito Fossella will not let you down,” Trump said. “Vote for him now in the Republican Primary, which has already begun!”
There could be several reasons why Trump did not endorse any candidates in New Jersey on June 8th and still has not endorsed that election’s winner Jack Ciattarelli.
First, Ciattarelli has not been the most supportive Republican when it comes to Trump. He had called the former president a charlatan who was unfit to be President and an embarrassment to the nation. That stance did not hinder Ciattarelli’s election and he defeated his two Trump loyalist opponents. Ciattarelli has show he doesn’t need Trump’s endorsement to win in a majority blue state in New Jersey. In fact, he may not even want Trump’s endorsement.
Second, Trump is friendly with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Both men heaped praises upon each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Murphy later took political shots at Trump as the 2020 election neared.
Third, perhaps none of the candidates ponied up the required campaign donation necessary for a Trump endorsement. Insiders in politics are now grumbling over a financial donation requirement to get an endorsement by many in Trump’s close family, including his son Donald Trump, Jr. Rumored estimates for a Trump family endorsement, insiders say range between $25,000 and $50,000 or more.
Lastly, Trump might just realize that New Jersey doesn’t matter if he wants to become president again in 2024. The state overwhelmingly rejected him in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. Seeing the writing on the wall, along with the growing popularity of Murphy among the state’s large Democrat population, Trump might not want to back an election he sees as unwinnable.
Trump has not mentioned the New Jersey election since leaving office in January. On June 8th, Ciattarelli’s victory was a blow to Trump’s America First agenda. Even though he won with under 50% of the vote, it was a decisive victory over two pro-Trump candidates which has now sparked a chain reaction across America, emboldening anti-Trump Republican candidates to bypass the baggage that could be associated with a Trump endorsement.
In New Jersey, a Trump endorsement could mean certain doom for Ciattarelli in most of the state controlled by Democrats. On the other hand, anti-Murphy Republicans and moderates may vote for Ciattarelli considering Phil Murphy as the alternative. Biden defeated trump 57% to 41% in New Jersey in 2020.
In 2017, Murphy defeated Kim Guadagno 56% to 42%.