Ciattarelli defeated former Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine, pastor Phil Rizzo and businessman and perennial candidate Hirsh Singh. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Ciatterelli earned 49.6 percent of the votes, compared to 25.8 percent for Rizzo and 21.5 for Singh.
Ciattarelli, 59, served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2011 to 2018. He lost a Republican gubernatorial primary in 2017 to then-Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno. Guadagno went on to lose to Murphy in the general election.
On the campaign trail, Ciattarelli called Murphy, a Democrat, an “extremist on the abortion issue” and called on the state’s legislature to rein in the governor’s executive powers.
“Make no mistake, Phil Murphy has no problem hijacking our democracy and wielding the power of a king while making unilateral decisions without any regard to whom he is impacting,” Ciattarelli alleged in a statement. “It is the job of the legislature on both sides of the aisle to end the insanity in Trenton.”
Murphy’s campaign has attacked Ciattarelli as a long-time political insider and a “cheerleader” for then-Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.
“While the Assemblyman is hoping to rebrand himself as an outsider, he’s nothing more than an establishment politician who enabled the disastrous Christie agenda and has spent his entire career putting special interests ahead of New Jersey values—with a long career like that, no wonder he wants to hide it,” Murphy’s campaign spokesman, Jerrel Harvey, said in a statement last month.
Ciattarelli raised more than $6.8 million for his campaign, ten times more than the next GOP candidate in terms of fundraising. He received the endorsements of former New Jersey Gov. Donald DiFrancesco, a Republican, and all 21 of New Jersey’s county Republican organizations.