Former New Jersey GOP candidate for Governor, Jack Ciattarelli finally concede defeat to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, arguably one of the most divisive governors in New Jersey history. Despite coming in some 75,000 votes behind Murphy, Ciattarelli says he’s ready to do it again in 2025, but can he defeat a popular Democrat after losing to an unpopular one?
There are several candidates in the potential field in 2025, including Steve Sweeney, Vin Gopal and Mikie Sherrill. Each of those Democrats receives overwhelming amounts of bi-partisan support and fondness.
Vin Gopal and Sherrill represent the future of the New Jersey Democrat Party. Gopal, an expert negotiator has close ties to both the GOP and the Democrat Party. Sherrill represents the progressive wing of the party and Sweeney, the party boss who lost his election in 2021 to truck driver Ed Durr is not expected to just walk away from the spotlight.
Ciattarelli struggled to defeat an opponent who was ripe for the picking, but he made several decisions that angered key components of his base instead of rallying them to vote.
First, there are countless tales of conservatives being banned from Ciattarelli’s social media pages. Many people took that as a direct slap in the face and for that simple reason, didn’t come out for Ciattarelli. It’s baffling that a candidate who was expected to lose by such a slim margin would adopt the campaign strategy of alienating his hardcore conservative base and many Trump supporters.
Second, if he couldn’t beat the unpopular candidate, why should he expect different results against a popular one in 2025, considering that he announced he’s not changing anything. He’s going to continue dismissing the right in an election where the right could be the deciding vote.
Instead, Ciattarelli announced that he’s going to continue the losing formula promoted by campaign consultant Chris Russell of Checkmate Wins, which led to losses for Republicans in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 at the state level. That safe brand of campaigning has been under attack by Republicans who want to see a firebrand-style candidate that would motivate voters to come out in 2025.
Third, Ciattarelli’s loss proved New Jersey’s conservative right that they were right about Ciattarelli and that he wasn’t strong enough to beat Murphy.
Republicans who came out in droves for Trump in 2020, simply stayed home for Jack in 2021. Before you go blaming the voter, you have to first look at the candidate to find out why they weren’t inspired to come out and vote for Jack, even if it was more for the sake of defeating Murphy.
Fourth, Jack heads into 2025 a two-time loser. He lost in 2017 in the GOP primary and he lost an election that was his for the losing in 2021. Will Republican donors line up again and fund him after losing so much money in 2021?
It’s hard to imagine that if Ciattarelli couldn’t defeat the most progressively liberal Democrat governor in state history that he could defeat a moderate like Gopal or a deal maker like Sweeney.
Jack Ciattarelli has tainted the Republican voter pool. Many hardcore conservatives will simply stay home in 2025 as they did in 2021 unless Ciattarelli and the party welcome them into the mix.