HOLMDEL, NJ - For Republican candidate Phil Rizzo and his local ticket of DiMaso and Scarano, the campaign is experiencing a tough time. This week, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission rejected the appeal of both late and incomplete matching campaign fund paperwork. The impact is the loss of hundreds of thousands of matching dollars and also the removal from the primary debate stage.
This follows earlier disclosures that Rizzo pays no property taxes on a multi-million dollar home that he sold to his church where he is the pastor and attacking Catholics on a video that Catholics were in bondage to their sin and their faith.
Rizzo is quite open and public about his negative opinion on Catholic beliefs. In a 2017 Hudson Reporter article, he said it 'broke his heart' that the prayer of 'Hail Mary' was recited during the heroic crash of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.
Stated Rizzo, "I’m reading my alumni magazine and there is this guy’s testimony about being on that plane, and he recounts this passenger counting down until the moment of impact, and being raised Catholic he begins to recite the Hail Mary. It broke my heart to read that. It emphasized where religion and the Bible parted ways. As far as he knew he was stepping into eternity, and he called out to someone who couldn’t save him."
Catholic faithful regularly pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Hail Mary is a staple of Catholic faithful. Catholics also comprise a major voting block in New Jersey. His running mate, Serena DiMaso, has not commented publicly on his 'Catholics in bondage' comments nor other anti-catholic comments from Rizzo.
However, the presumptive nominee for Governor, Jack Ciattarelli, did speak out.
Ciattarelli slammed Rizzo for his religiously insensitive comments. “Any candidate for any office who disparages and demeans Catholics’ faith or anyone else’s faith needs to rethink their candidacy,” Ciattarelli said via a spokesperson. “We need leadership that brings us together, not divides us along the lines of race, creed, color or religion.”
A Rizzo campaign spokesperson didn't deny the comments but said that Ciattarelli was just playing politics.
“These are the attacks we expect from a professional politician like Jack Ciattarelli,” a statement said. “New Jerseyans want their lives back plain and simple. It’s been pretty clear from the growing momentum of Rizzo’s campaign over the past several weeks that New Jerseyans don’t want more of the status quo.”
Rizzo's13th District legislative ticket includes running mate Serena DiMaso and her long time campaign worker, Tom Scarano. Scarano worked on many political campaigns and served on the school board in Woodbridge years ago according to Patch. He is running to oust Monmouth County Board of Commissioner, Sue Kiley. Kiley is from Hazlet and she is their former Mayor.
With ballots printed and ready for delivery, the anti-Catholic video, property tax controversy and a choking off of public funds provided more work than expected for Rizzo and his team. They now add losing their legal appeal and getting tossed off the debate stage.
Ciattarelli, the presumptive nominee, has been running for Governor since facing Kim Guadagno in 2017 for the Republican nomination for Governor. Guadagno, who won the primary, lost to current Governor Phil Murphy by over 300,000 votes. She has actively campaigned and endorsed DiMaso for the June Primary, yet faces a few challenges of her own for being too political with Fulfill, a non-profit she heads, according to NJ Globe.
In June, voters will determine the outcome as Levine, Singh, Rizzo, DiMaso and Scarano will square off against Republican Party Endorsed 'On the Line' candidates Ciattarelli, O'Scanlon, Scharfenberger, Flynn and Kiley on June 8th.