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Jack Ciattarelli wins GOP primary for New Jersey governor, CNN projects

Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman and the establishment-backed candidate, edged out three other Republican candidates — engineer Hirsh Singh, pastor Phil Rizzo and former Franklin Mayor Brian Levine — to win the party’s nomination.
While he was the front-runner in Tuesday’s GOP contest, Ciattarelli now faces a battle against Murphy, the favorite in this year’s race. The sitting governor, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, is well-positioned to break a New Jersey streak that began in 1989 of electing a governor from the party opposite of the sitting president, a year after Joe Biden won the state by 16 percentage points.
Ciattarelli was by far the best-funded candidate in the Republican race, raising $7 million while none of his rivals had reached the $1 million mark. With endorsements from all 21 county Republican organizations in the state, he also benefited from prime placement on the ballot.
On the campaign trail, Ciattarelli focused mostly on how he’d take on Murphy, highlighting tax policies and the Democratic governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But his campaign signaled it saw his history of criticizing former President Donald Trump as a vulnerability: Ciattarelli attended a “Stop the Steal” rally, and was backed by Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a former Democrat who switched parties and became a staunch Trump ally.
Ciattarelli also labeled his leading rival Singh, a “fake MAGA candidate” in an ad, in which his campaign cast Singh as an opponent of law enforcement officers and highlighted a 2014 Facebook post in which Singh wrote in response to the killing of Eric Garner that “police terror must stop.”
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