Ciattarelli, Allen attack Murphy record on women as ticket debuts
UNION TOWNSHIP (Hunterdon) – The newly minted Republican ticket for governor and lieutenant governor attacked Gov. Phil Murphy for alleged indifference or mistreatment of women Wednesday, capped off by a stop at scandal-dogged prison for women in Hunterdon County.
Gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman, made official his selection of former Sen. Diane Allen as his running mate at two rollout events – first at the Burlington County Agricultural Center in Moorestown, then at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women just outside of Clinton.
“Diane Allen is a champion for equality and a trailblazer for women’s rights, respected by Democrats, Republicans and independents across New Jersey,” Ciattarelli said. “That stands in stark contrast to Phil Murphy, who has a troubling and shameful track record of repeatedly siding with powerful men at the expense of women who have been victims of abuse, harassment and rape.”
Allen said the torture, rape and beatings documented of women prisoners at Edna Mahan is “beyond anything you can imagine.”
“But here’s the thing: The governor did nothing for days. For weeks. For months. He did nothing,” said Allen, who said Murphy still didn’t act after a federal report on civil-rights violations at the prison.
“This isn’t the first time that he stuck his head in the sand on an issue that involved women. But this one was just so egregious,” Allen said. “And this is what he does. Whenever there are issues involving women in his orbit, where things are going wrong and women are being hurt or victimized, he turns away from it until the blowback hits him. And then maybe he’ll do something. We can’t wait for that.”
Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks was finally forced out by Murphy in June. Murphy also plans to close the Edna Mahan facility.
Allen cited other topics involving women, as well: Katie Brennan, the 2017 campaign aide who said she was raped by a colleague who was nevertheless hired by the administration; Julie Roginsky, a campaign consultant who complained of a toxic work environment in 2017; the handling of harassment claims at the U.S. Embassy in Germany when Murphy was ambassador; and management and living-condition problems with the women’s professional soccer Murphy owns.
“I mean, he treats women in a certain way, and it’s not a way that we ever want to see,” Allen said. “… There are a lot of very strong women in New Jersey, and I say we all must stand up and say that we will not stand for Gov. Murphy and his administration treating women the way that he has.”
Murphy’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on Wednesday’s remarks by Ciattarelli and Allen. The Democratic State Committee pre-emptively questioned whether the moderate Allen is an ideological fit with the more conservative Ciattarelli.
On his campaign website, the Murphy campaign notes he signed equal-pay protections into law, a bill named after Allen; expanded paid family leave; restored funding to Planned Parenthood, which beyond abortion also serves women’s health more broadly; signed a package of bills related to sexual assault, in the wake of hearings into Brennan’s complaints; and appointed the state’s first-ever majority-female Cabinet.
Ciattarelli said he and Allen will provide voters “a highly competitive race for governor” and “very compelling choice for a different kind of future here in New Jersey.”
“Someone recently suggested to me that if there was a Mount Rushmore of legislators here in New Jersey, Diane Allen would be that Mount Rushmore,” Ciattarelli said.
Ciattarelli said Allen’s electoral history in the 7th Legislative District mirrors his in that both won elections in swing districts where registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans. He said Allen’s tenure in the Senate and his in the Assembly would help them work in partnership with the Legislature.
“Unlike our current governor who hijacked our democracy and ran our state by executive order for 14 consecutive months,” Ciattarelli said.
Allen, a former reporter and TV news anchor in Philadelphia, was elected to the Assembly in 1995 and then the Senate in 1997. She won re-election to the Senate five times. But her first try for office was a bid for the Moorestown school board – in which she said she finished seventh in a six-candidate race due to write-in votes.
“They basically told me that I was too young. I’ve solved that one,” said Allen, 73. “They told me that I didn’t know how to play politics the right way. I still don’t. Don’t want to know. And they told me that it wasn’t my turn. Well, Jack says it’s my turn. It’s our turn. And we’re going to win.”
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at email@example.com.