SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ – Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican nominee for governor in New Jersey just got the worst news of his campaign. A mayor in the heart of Republican country at the Jersey Shore has essentially endorsed Phil Murphy for governor of New Jersey. Although Seaside Heights is a small town, Mayor Anthony Vaz’s opinion carries weight in political circles.
It has been suspected that Ocean County will shun Jack Ciattarelli. After all, Ciattarelli voted twice against “Restore the Shore” efforts in Trenton that helped the Jersey Shore rebound from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. On the other hand, Phil Murphy has been blamed for defunding schools in the county.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz appears to have not forgotten how Ciattarelli voted against a Hurricane Sandy funding bill and foreclosure protection relief while the candidate served as an assemblyman in Trenton. Vaz heaped praise upon Murphy who has called Seaside a home away from home during his tenure in office.
The biggest problem for shore voters is that we know who we have, but we don’t know who we’re getting. Can Ciattarelli be trusted to be behind shore residents if another devastating hurricane makes landfall? Say what you want about Murphy, but he won’t turn his back on residents after a major disaster.
“I believe he’s a man of great leadership and high integrity,” Vaz said at a fundraiser held in his town for Murphy. “We developed a friendship. Our philosophies are much different. I’m a conservative. But I’ve worked with him, and I know he’s sincere.”
The mayor later clarified his comment, saying he doesn’t want to criticize Ciattarelli, but feels Murphy has addressed the needs of his residents properly.
“That wasn’t my intent,” NJ.com reported Vaz as saying. “My intent was Murphy is good to the taxpayers of Seaside Heights. He has been extremely good to us.”
Vaz isn’t the only Republican mayor shunning Ciattarelli at the Jersey Shore, particularly in Ocean County. While none will publicly endorse Murphy, few are running to the front of the line to endorse Ciattarelli. For Ocean County Republican mayors, Ciattarelli is damaged goods politically. Ocean County is Trump country. Ciattarelli has lodged harsh criticisms against the former President and a public endorsement of Ciattarelli could scare away diehard Trump voters they’ll rely on to win their next election.
Ciattarelli’s double whammy against Ocean County of denying aid to families devastated by Superstorm Sandy and his anti-Trump statements could be the nail in the coffin for his campaign. In order to win in New Jersey, Republicans need major victories across Ocean County. While few Republicans will cast their votes for Murphy, many might just sit the gubernatorial race out and hope for the party to rebuild itself and try again in four years.