🔺 Republicans may have more options in the race for Governor

🔺 2021 loser Jack Ciattarelli to formally announce his candidacy

🔺 Bill Spadea and Ed Durr considering a run

The race to see who will capture the Republican nomination to run for governor in 2025 is beginning to heat up with no clear frontrunner.

New Jersey State Senator Jon Bramnick was the first to formally declare his candidacy.

Today, he will be joined by 2021 loser Jack Ciattarelli.

Jack Ciattarelli
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, left, is joined by his wife Melinda as he speaks during a news conference, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in Raritan, N.J. Ciattarelli conceded the race to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When Ciattarelli conceded the race to incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy in the last election, he said it was his intention to run again.

Ciattarelli will formally kick off his campaign at the American Hotel in Freehold at 6 p.m.

Promising "a bold vision for the future of New Jersey," Ciattarelli has been clinging to the idea that he "almost won" in 2021. In reality, he lost by nearly 100,000 votes, and handed a reelection victory to Phil Murphy.

It was a closer margin than many Democrats had expected, but it was still the first time a Democratic governor had won a second term in New Jersey since 1977.

Election 2021 Governor New Jersey
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, left, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy celebrate after speaking to supporters after winning the gubernatorial race against Jack Ciattarelli Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Asbury Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Ciattarelli has been quietly making the rounds and talking to county political bosses about their support for a second run. Not everyone is onboard.

Bramnick currently has a clear fundraising advantage over Ciattarelli, but Ciattarelli has been limited in his money efforts because he had yet to formally declare his candidacy.

Both candidates struggle with name recognition, even among Republican voters. For Ciattarelli, that is particularly concerning since he has run multiple times in primary and general election contests.

Will more candidates enter the race for Governor?

Two additional candidates admit publicly they are considering a potential primary run.

Former State Senator Ed Durr, known as Ed the Trucker, tells New Jersey Globe he has been contacted about a possible run for Governor.

Durr says he has had people "whisper in his ear" and a run is "not out of the realm of possibility."

(L-R) Edward Durr, state Sen. Steve Sweeney
(L-R) Edward Durr, state Sen. Steve Sweeney

The truck driver earned national recognition for toppling the most powerful Democrat in the legislature when he upset Sen. President Steve Sweeney in 2021. Durr ultimately lost that seat last November when Democrats spent millions of dollars to get him out.

Durr has never ruled out a return to politics. "I haven’t definitively ruled out anything, and I never will," he told the Globe.

Another potential GOP candidate is New Jersey 101.5 host Bill Spadea.

Spadea has been using his morning show to promote a conservative crusade of "common sense." He also keeps a campaign-like schedule of daily events meeting with potential voters.

Bill Spadea: ‘Spread the word on common sense policies that will turn New Jersey around.’

He has repeatedly said he is not a candidate right now, "but the thought has crossed my mind."

Spadea has also shown the strong ability to raise money. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars though his Common Sense PAC to support candidates he has endorsed.

Both Spadea and Durr are strong supporters of Donald Trump and each would likely seek to tap into Trump voters if they decide to run.

Trump Indictment Capitol Riot

Ciattarelli and Bramnick have been critical of Trump and would likely not appeal to that particular voter base.

Many Trump voters stayed home in the 2021 gubernatorial contest, and some pundits have suggested that could have cost Ciattarelli the election.

Where NJ's 'red wave' of the 2021 election was reddest

In 2017, Gov. Phil Murphy won the election by 14.1 percentage points, a margin exceeding 303,000. His re-election was much closer, an 84,000-vote, 3.2-point victory. He and others talked about a ‘red wave’ of Republican voters in the electorate, and certified results show which counties turned red most.

Gallery Credit: Michael Symons

NJ schools with the worst attendance problems

These 30 schools had the highest rate of chronic absenteeism in the 2022-23 school year. Data is for the New Jersey Department of Education's annual NJ School Performance Reports.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

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