Less than two hours after the polls closed, Mr. Ciattarelli was declared the winner by the Associated Press. He had won 49.6% of the vote in the four-man race for the Republican nomination Tuesday night. His victory comes four years after a second place in the primaries behind Kim Guadagno, then lieutenant governor.
“Tonight the people of New Jersey have shown they are ready for a change, and we are just getting started,” Ciattarelli, 59, said in a statement. “The point is, after four years of failed leadership from Murphy, our state is in trouble.”
“We will make New Jersey more affordable by lowering property taxes,” he added. “We will create jobs. We will revive the small businesses on Main Street. We will reduce the size and cost of government.
The Republican primary was seen as a test of the power of Mr. Trump’s combative politics among New Jersey worshipers, and the public speech often touched on themes of the former president’s tenure: the mask-wearing policy. and the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s victory.
“We all know Trump won,” said Hirsh Singh, an aerospace engineer and self-proclaimed Trump Republican who was leading his recent fourth campaign for the job, as he faced Mr. Ciattarelli in the primary’s only public debate. Only Mr Singh and Mr Ciattarelli qualified for public funding, making them eligible for debate.
But it was Philip Rizzo, a pastor and real estate developer who also aligned himself with Mr Trump, who was in second place Tuesday night with nearly 26% of the Republican vote, four percentage points ahead of Mr Singh. Brian Levine, former mayor of Franklin, NJ, was fourth.
Turnout was low, with less than one in five registered Republican voting.
Political analysts said the results could pressure Ciattarelli to address national themes popular with Trump supporters instead of the motives of good governance and fiscal responsibility which are more likely to resonate with politicians. traditional Republicans and the state’s 2.4 million independent voters.