The 2021 Gubernatorial elections of the state of New Jersey gave more fodder than one could ask for, to both political pundits and the voters, alike. Polls are surreal and issues are real. Media made it sound like David v. Goliath, but it turned out to be a battle of the equals. Even as counting is still underway for the winner, with such a razor thin margin, post-electoral and pre-declarative analysis is imperative. Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli took everyone by surprise, including the political pundits. Although Mr. Ciattarelli’s team and voters were confident throughout the campaign, Governor Phillip Murphy’s team with their philippic attacks dismissed Mr. Ciattarelli and falsely blamed his lack of name recognition. But as the campaign drew to a close, the old chestnuts flew to NJ all the way from Washington D.C. Governor Murphy’s overconfidence and over arrogance was at full display.
Murphy’s absence on campaign trail and his occasional photo-op appearances were dismissed as pure optics, by the electorate. This coupled with erratic short-lived moments of fear (inviting everyone) could likely have caused a razor-thin margin pull off. The overtly biased polls did nothing to shake the confidence of pre-decided voters who understood the issues of the state and were well on their path to vote for the GOP candidate Mr. Ciattarelli, whom they considered messiah to solve the problems plaguing the state of New Jersey.
Mr. Ciattarelli pulled out an upset in several unexpected quarters. Literally pulling the carpet right under Murphy’s nose. This showed the frustration and disapproval of Governor Murphy and his extremist policies. Also, Mr. Ciattarelli’s jibe “I’m mainstream, Murphy is extreme”, gelled well with the residents who were brewing in anger and used election as their ultimate weapon to show Governor Murphy that they cannot be taken for granted. Several other legislative races are a testimony to this. Mr. Ciattarelli’s exuding confidence couple with the continued trust shown by voters at all his rallies and meets, were conveniently dismissed by Murphy’s campaign.
This election, rightfully so, proved Governor Murphy failed on two fronts. Mr. Murphy failed to recognize the strength of his opponent and failed to read dissatisfaction and dissidence by not just voters at-large, but also within his own voter base. This is evident from several closely called races in the so-called left-leaning counties of the state. This is a wakeup call for Governor Murphy that welfare policies and extremist policies, and doling out favors alone cannot win elections, even in a liberal state (which is not as liberal as many think) like New Jersey. Any extremity is not good. It’s the down ballot issues and Mr. Ciattarelli’s message, which struck a chord with the disgruntled voters.
Like they say, “Curiosity killed the cat”. Politically equivalent Idiomatic analogy would translate to “Arrogance killed Murphy”. Regardless of what the results say, Democrats were shellacked. GOP’s ascent in a perceived liberal state like New Jersey has a lot to teach liberal purists about the political limits of their theories, the need to temper dogma with more pragmatic, realistic and contingent wisdom. It’s time for an introspection. In this race, victor is a matter of perception. Congratulations to the winner(s)!!
In Mr. Ciattarelli’s own often repeated words. “Who says that”? Question is “who does that”, answer to which is “Voters of NJ”. Voters are always smart and teach right lesson to the right person at the right time. Be humble in politics, if not, politics will humble you. Like they say, “Curiosity killed the cat”. “Arrogance and overconfidence decimated Murphy”. Regardless of the margin of victory for either side, Murphy has nothing to celebrate, and Mr. Ciattarelli has everything to celebrate.
Polls are only a yardstick, never a mandate. Numbers are still to come. But GOP and Mr. Ciattarelli will remain morally victorious and carve a new record of their own in the political annals of the state of New Jersey.
It ain’t over, until it’s over. God bless the greatest nation on this planet, United States of America.
Arun Kumar is an editor, pilot, talk-show host, and an avid reader. His interests include aerospace engineering, American politics, geopolitics, international relations, and history. He is also the Director of Outreach and Coalition Asian-American, Jack Ciattarelli Campaign