New Jersey’s Forgotten Governor Race


Left- Phil Murphy (D), Right- Jack Ciattarelli (R)

Dan Stark, Student Editor

The national political landscape has been dominated by the California Recall Election and Virginia’s Gubernatorial Election, but the New Jersey Gubernatorial Election is a race that has received little attention. Though New Jersey is regarded as a safe Democratic state, the election is still worth looking at.

The election is being held on November 2nd. Incumbent Governor Phil Murphy (D) is running for a second term. He was elected in 2017 to secede term-limited Republican Chris Christie with 56% of the vote, defeating then-Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno by a margin of 14.1%. 

This year, Murphy is running against Jack Ciattarelli, a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly from the Hunterdon County-based 16th district. He won the Republican nomination in the June 8 primary with 49% of the vote. He also ran in the 2017 Republican gubernatorial primary, but came in second place with 31% of the vote.

Ciattarelli has made the economy a central issue of his campaign, specifically New Jersey’s high taxes. He has also rallied against Murphy’s liberal positions on gun control, abortion, and his handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic. His conservative approach to the state would involve lessening the state’s strict gun laws, lowering taxes and a tough approach on illegal immigration. 

However, unlike other Republicans seeking statewide office this year, Ciattarelli has distanced himself to former President Donald Trump. He has referred to himself as an “Abraham Lincoln Republican” and has not been endorsed by the former president. 

As the race currently stands, Murphy is favored to win reelection. The most recent poll of likely voters conducted by Monmouth University, an ‘A’ rated pollster by FiveThirtyEight, shows Murphy defeating Ciattarelli by a margin of 19%. The same poll found Murphy’s approval rating at 54% and disapproval rating at 36%.

If Murphy wins reelection, he will become the first Democrat to be reelected to the governorship since Brendan Byrne in 1977. While the race is still weeks away and anything could change, Murphy is on track to be reelected as Governor of New Jersey.