While Republican state assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerset County) may be the first Republican moderate to enter the GOP gubernatorial primary race, a little-known challenger from Ocean County was actually the first to file paperwork with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission officially declaring their candidacy for the 2017 primary election on the Republicn side.
The Star-Ledger, and other mainstream media outlets, got it wrong when they stated that Assemblyman Jack Ciatarelli, a North Jersey state legislator who is set to officially announce his campaign this week, was the first Republican to enter the governor’s race.
According to reports on file with the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), the first Republican to officially declare their candidacy for the 2017 cycle was Little Egg Harbor’s Joey Rullo – not Mr. Ciatarelli as reported by many of the state’s media outlets.
A simple check of the ELEC database would have shown that Rullo – an actor and perennial candidate – filed his petition a full two weeks before Ciatarelli, who is viewed as a moderate Republican.
Mr. Rullo, for his part, has previously made several unsuccessful bids for elected office, including an unsuccessful 2013 run for US Senate. Rullo has typically been viewed as an outsider in GOP circles. While adjudicating the strengths of the Rullo campaign compared to that of Ciattarelli’s is beyond the scope of this post, we did feel the need to correct the record with respect to the claim that Ciatarelli was actually the first to get in the race, because he simply wasn’t.
The ELEC Filings:
Thus far, Mr. Rullo and Assemblyman Ciatarelli are the only two officially declared candidates on the Republican side, with current Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno believed to also be mulling a run in the 2017 race as well.
This week, on the other side of the aisle, New Jersey’s Democrats saw the exit of Jersey City’s Mayor Steven Fulop. Fulop made several appearances in Ocean County during his unsuccessful campaign.