Phil Murphy's campaign is hitting New Jersey Republican candidate for governor Jack Ciattarelli on his opposition to COVID-19 vaccination and mask mandates.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to stop it are taking the spotlight in New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's reelection run against former Republican state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.
Murphy, who is running for a second term, released a new ad on Friday attacking Ciattarelli over his comments on COVID-19 and his plans to get the pandemic under control.
The 30-second spot ties Ciattarelli to Donald Trump, blasting Ciattarelli for parroting Trump's lies that COVID-19 doesn't impact children, and highlights Ciattarelli's opposition to virus mitigation efforts like mask and vaccination requirements.
The ad starts with a recording of Trump saying, "If you look at children, children are almost immune from this disease," followed by one of Ciattarelli saying, "Children are not vulnerable to this virus."
A narrator then says, "Wow. Ciattarelli's against mask and vaccine requirements for public health care workers and educators. He'd force schools to stop requiring vaccinations — even for mumps and measles. Extreme politics ahead of science."
A Stockton University poll released Wednesday found that the COVID-19 pandemic is the top issue among voters in New Jersey. It also found that Murphy's policies — including mask mandates in schools and vaccine requirements — are widely popular. It found that 58% support mask mandates in schools; 56% support large employers requiring their workers to be vaccinated or show weekly negative coronavirus tests; and 63% support requiring health care workers to be vaccinated.
Overall, according to the poll, voters said Murphy would "better manage the pandemic over Ciattarelli" by a 50%-34% spread. Murphy currently holds a 9-point lead over Ciattarelli, it said.
With Murphy in office, New Jersey has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. According to data from the New York Times, 73% of residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 64% are fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 continues to be a major issue in 2021 elections across the country. In addition to Murphy's ad against Ciattarelli, the issue was key to California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent strong victory against a recall effort by Republicans in the state. Newsom said during his campaign to remain in office that Republicans would push the state backward when it came to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
One pro-Newsom ad called his election a "matter of life and death," saying, "With Delta surging, Gavin Newsom is protecting California, requiring vaccinations for health workers and school employees. The top Republican candidate? He peddled deadly conspiracy theories and would eliminate vaccine mandates on day one."
In Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is using the issue against Republican Glenn Youngkin, releasing an ad in September that called attention to Youngkin's opposition to mask and vaccination requirement: "Like Donald Trump, Glenn Youngkin refuses to take coronavirus seriously."
In addition to the Stockton poll, the Cook Political Report shows Murphy to be the favorite in the New Jersey governor's race, rating it a solid Democratic contest.
The race in Virginia is closer, though McAuliffe holds a polling lead over Youngkin. The Cook Political Report rates that race a tossup.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.