Determined Ciattarelli Kicks Off GOP Gubernatorial Campaign, Vows to Beat Cancer

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli speaks to the crowd at his kick-off reception. From left: Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caligure; state Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman and Ciattarelli's wife Melinda. Credits: Rod Hirsch

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – GOP gubernatorial candidate and state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli minced no words when he greeted hundreds of supporters at his kick-off reception last night, just two weeks after a Statehouse press conference where he announced that he was undergoing radiation and recovering from a Nov. 15 operation for throat cancer.

Standing behind the podium in the ballroom at the Somerville Elks, with his wife Melinda and other lawmakers behind him, Ciattarelli scanned the room, picked up the microphone and said:

“Screw the cancer.”

Sign Up for E-News

Game on.

He told the crowd that he’s been drawing strength from the well wishes, letters and cards of encouragement that have come his way since the announcement, saying it was the “best medicine” he could receive.

“I’m more determined than ever that I will beat the cancer,” he said.

Doctors have given Ciattarelli a positive prognosis; cancerous lymph nodes were removed during the  operation, and a full body scan detected no other signs of cancer.

Ciattarelli had said he would be forced to modify his campaign schedule and miss some scheduled events through mid-February because of the expected side effects from the radiation.

But there was no sign of that Thursday night.

Shifting gears with the aplomb of a veteran diplomat or seasoned stand-up comic, Ciattarelli had some fun at his own expense, joking about the diagnosis and subsequent radiation treatments.

When doctors gave him the results of his initial tests, Ciattarelli said he told them, “I can’t have cancer, I’m running for governor.”

The 55-year-old state Assemblyman was eager to show he is up for the medical and political challenges ahead.

“Twenty-two down and eight to go,” he said, referring to the number of radiation sessions yet to complete.

“We all need chicken soup, and she’s mine,” Ciattarelli said when he introduced his wife of 24 years.

Joining Ciattarelli on stage were former Assemblywoman Donna Simon, who represented the 16th legislative district with Ciattarelli for four years before losing re-election in 2015; Hunterdon County Freeholder Director John Lanza; Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman; Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, (R-39th), and Assemblyman John DiMaio, (R-23rd).

They offered their endorsements of Ciattarelli’s bid in the June 6th GOP primary. His major opponent is Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who has served alongside Gov. Chris Christie for seven years.

“He needs to be our candidate; he needs to be our governor,” Caliguire said.

 “This is the guy who should be governor,” Simon said.

On Wednesday, Ciattarelli challenged Guadagno to a series of debates in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.

Their expected Democrat opponent in the November election is Wall Street financier Peter Murphy.

Earlier in the day, Simon, Caliguire and Bateman kicked off their campaign to represent the 16th district. Simon will attempt to regain her seat, now held by Democrat Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. Caliguire will run for Ciattarelli’s seat, and Batemen will run for re-election in the Senate.

Ciattarelli’s campaign is based on the need for change, dumping the status quo, and a practical approach to the state’s ongoing financial crisis.

A graduate of Seton Hall University with degrees in accounting, Ciattarelli is a CPA and owns two businesses. He has been traveling throughout the state since last summer detailing his five-point plan to tackle the state’s fiscal woes.

Ciattarelli’s plan zeroes in on what he describes as an inequitable school funding formula, runaway property taxes, the public employee pension system, a reversal in downgrades of the state’s debt rating,  improved communications between state agencies and departments and upgrades to the state government’s computer system, which is outdated by as much as 20 years, according to the candidate.

Ciattarelli advocates bi-annual meetings to include the governor, lieutenant governor, the state Assembly and state Senate and New Jersey’s 12 members of the House of Representatives and two US Senators in an effort to do what is best for New Jersey by pooling their resources and expertise.

Ciattarelli said he is anxious to introduce his style of “can do” leadership to help reverse a long list of negatives that have become synonymous with New Jersey:

-          The state ranks last in the amount of federal aid received from Washington;

-          The state ranks first in the number of people that are leaving to live elsewhere;

-          New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation.

“Jack is going to be a great governor,” Bateman said. “He’s the only one who has a real plan; he cares about us. He’s going to get it done,” the veteran legislator added.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

East Brunswick's Girl Scouts Work with a Young Woman's Busy Schedule

March 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Have you wanted to join a Girl Scout troop, but just don't have the time? Check out this out. Busy teens can be Independent Girl Scouts -- all the programs and awards without the scheduled troop meetings. Teen girls can do badge work, attend events, travel, earn awards or do community service on their own time. (And ...

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

Middlesex County Young Republicans Host "Road to Victory" Event at the Green Turtle

March 21, 2018

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Middlesex County Young Republican Chairman John Steiner would like to announce the Middlesex County Young Republicans "Road to Victory" Reception, which will take place on March 22 at the Green Turtle in North Brunswick from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

This event will serve as the official launch for the 2018 campaign season for the Middlesex ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, March 23, 8:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey , New Brunswick

Motown the Musical

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, April 7, 2:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 15, 3:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

Jason Alexander: The Broadway Boy

Arts & Entertainment

EBPL Book and Media Sale April 9-14

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—The East Brunswick Friends of Library hos their 44th annual Book and Media Sale in the Centre Court of Brunswick Square Mall (755 State Route 18, East Brunswick) this April 9-15.

The sale runs through the mall's normal hours of operations. Monday, April 9 through Saturday, April 14 (from 10 am to 9:30 pm) and Sunday, April 15 (11 ...

EBPL: Addressing Sexual Violence through Education & Empowerment

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) hosts a special two-part program “Addressing Sexual Violence through Education & Empowerment” on Wednesday, April 4 from 7 to 9 pm.

The first part of the program is the presentation ”Sexual Violence” with Jennifer Kurdyla, MSW, of Middlesex County Office of Health Services and ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts “The Jews of Tsarist Russia and Bessarabia Before the Holocaust” Program

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) presents the fifth installment in the series “The Jews of Eastern Europe Before The Holocaust” on April 8 at 2:30 pm.

“The intent of the series is to bring to light the legacy of my Jewish ancestors, prior to their annihilation during the Shoah,” said Dr. Michael G. Kesler, ...

Need a Passport? Save Money by Getting It Before April 2

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—If you are planning to get a new United States passport, you can save $10 by submitting your application at the East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) before Monday, April 2.

The cost of a passport’s execution fee is rising from $25 to $35. The fee increase is mandated by the Department of State for any passport application submitted to ...

Queen Mary and the Cruiser

Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997)

“Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking astern---through the bulkhead door which was open, saw the stern of a ship sticking up out of ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...