Incumbent Governor, Elected Governor, Past governor, are some phrases one commonly encounters in the political argot. However, the full-scale drubbing Governor Murphy received from Team Ciattarelli (Mr. Ciattarelli and the unexpected large-scale undecided voter drift coupled with lopsided and erroneous electoral predictions) sent shock waves not just to Murphy administration but the entire Democratic party at large. This was exacerbated by the surrealistic expectations by the Governor based on lopsided electoral predictions, ultimately leading to a lackluster celebration at the Murphy headquarters. This led to the emergence of a new addition to the political vernacular, ‘People’s Governor’. Even as the counting of the votes is under progress, despite AP calling the race, the popularity and hope of voters for Mr. Ciattarelli did not seem to have lost its sheen.
This is unlike any other race, where people seem to move on the moment results are declared and the live election results do fall off the front page of the newspapers. It’s natural for a candidate to be nervous, however, the sustained popularity amidst not so favorable voter gap for Mr. Ciattarelli only indicates that his consistent sustained focus on New Jersey and New Jersey alone, seemed to have paid off. Mr. Ciattarelli not only successfully built his own impregnable voter base but also successfully eroded Mr. Murphy’s voter base. This is a political double whammy! This erosion can be meaningfully extrapolated to state that the liberal, left-leaning inclination of New Jersey is not only falsifiable and non-genetic, but is issue-oriented in nature. These traits can be noted even in elections across the Delaware river, in Virginia. Both Mr. Youngkin and Mr. Ciattarelli, albeit in different strategic ways, proved that impossible is possible.
Between mask mandates and controversially repugnant school curricula, New Jersey parents were fed up with administration telling them how to raise their children and more importantly what needs to be taught to the children, which Mr. Ciattarelli drove home successfully by highlighting them as “Kitchen table” issues. By deftly understanding dissatisfaction and quickly tapping into frustration on School curricula, Mr. Ciattarelli waged an ideological, pragmatic, and an issue-based war, which neither political pundits nor the Mr. Murphy noticed.
“If Taxes are your issue, we are probably not your state”. Mr. Ciattarelli half-jokingly mentioned in several of his speeches that it took him twenty-two takes to accurately repeat this famously infamous statement. Well, but it took him only 1 take, electorally, to shake Mr. Murphy’s overconfidence and arrogance. This comment of Mr. Murphy also was quickly perceived as an insult to New Jersey. Added to this, Mr. Murphy’s open love for the Red Sox (neither illegal nor unconstitutional, ‘Choice’ applies to sport teams too) further fueled the non-Jersey rhetoric. Jack quickly hammered this home and snowballed this as native v. out of state narrative. When riding in an extreme ‘left’ HOV lane, every little thing matters. Collectively, all the minor and trivial issues compounded and went unnoticed causing damage to Mr. Murphy’s prospects. Mr. Murphy owes this self-inflicted damage to his own muffling of rising Ciattarelli’s popularity and to the denial of the rising unrest among the masses.
Everything is fair in politics and war. As someone who understood people’s common-sense problems in the true sense of the word, and more importantly with a will to resolve, coupled with a determined focus on NJ and NJ alone, Mr. Ciattarelli is really the ‘People’s Governor’. Touché, regardless of the hairline percentage difference and the fabricated “low name recognition” tag, the roaring success of Mr. Ciattarelli brought Mr. Murphy back to ground.
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