Kickoff Speech


You ready?   

So am I. Fact is, I’ve been ready since Phil Murphy was sworn in two years ago.

You know why? Because Phil Murphy doesn’t get it. Maybe it’s because he’s not from New Jersey or doesn’t understand New Jersey. The bottom line is, he’s not New Jersey. 

My story IS a New Jersey story.

A story that started right here in Raritan . . . Where my grandparents immigrated 100 years ago . . .Where my parents raised their family . . .Where I attended John F. Kennedy School! 

About 100 yards from where I stand was my kindergarten class. If my teacher, Ms. Stillwell could see me now.  She’d be saying, “How the hell did this happen?”

It’s here in New Jersey, where I earned my bachelor’s and MBA at Seton Hall University. Where I became a CPA.

Where I started two very successful businesses and created jobs.

Where my wife, Melinda, and I raised our four children.

And so, right here, right now . . . Where it all started for the Ciattarellis . . . Right here, right now, where it all started for me . . . I declare that I am a candidate for Governor.

Friends, New Jersey is broken. You know it and I know it.

Companies have left and continue to leave because our business climate is ranked the worst in the country. Year over year, our state economy lags the national economy. We’re dead last or next to last in job growth, wage growth, and fiscal health. 

Our soaring state debt has been repeatedly downgraded and sits four notches above junk bond status. And, as we all painfully know, our property taxes are the highest in the nation.

People are fed up. That’s why New Jersey has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in outmigration – people leaving. That’s why nearly one-half of those who remain want to leave. It’s NOT the weather. It's taxes and the cost of living.

We need bold leadership. Leadership that identifies with everyday New Jerseyans. Leadership that understands how to fix what’s broken.

What we don’t need is an out-of-touch, tone-deaf Governor like Phil Murphy who says, “If taxes are your issue, we’re probably not your state.”

Are you kidding me? Here’s the deal: If taxes are your issue, Phil Murphy shouldn’t be your Governor.

Let’s get something else straight. We don’t want to be, in Murphy’s words, “the California of the east coast” or “a progressive blue beacon.”

If that’s what Murphy wants, then he should move to California.

Here’s what we want: fix the damn state!

Ever notice how Murphy never talks about property taxes? Maybe he’s OK with paying more than $200,000 a year in property taxes on his own home.

Ever notice how Murphy never talks about reforming school funding? About reforming public pensions? About reforming our business climate? About our affordability crisis? Is he OK with these things too?

He talks about making New Jersey “stronger and fairer.” But then he increases business taxes; increases personal income taxes; encourages illegal immigration with sanctuary cities and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

Really? Are these our priorities in New Jersey? How about someone lowering our damn property taxes!

Folks, none of the things Murphy supports make New Jersey stronger and fairer. None of these things fix New Jersey.

None of these things help the middle class get ahead or lift the working poor. In fact, his policies only drive more people out of New Jersey.

As your next Governor, I will bring people together to solve our problems. Not divide us for short-term political gain.

As your next Governor, I will call for a Constitutional Convention. Our 1947 State Constitution doesn’t address what’s broken in New Jersey. And we can no longer afford to let the courts decide.

We need a new constitution that addresses today’s realities. State school funding and affordable housing are two perfect examples.

As your next governor . . . If I don’t have the cooperation of the legislature, I will push for Initiative & Referendum (I&R). Let’s empower citizens to make the changes we desperately need.

To provide real opportunity for our middle class, the working poor, minorities, those in the trades, our college graduates . . .

We’ve got to change the direction of our broken state. We’ve got to lower property taxes. We’ve got to bring businesses back to New Jersey.

To accomplish these goals, I will, as your next Governor, make the following my top priorities:

  • Lowering property taxes by reforming state school funding
  • Growing the economy by reforming our tax code
  • Rolling back burdensome regulations
  • Cutting spending by eliminating waste, streamlining government, and reforming civil service

I’ll also do my very best to improve healthcare; repair our decaying water infrastructure; fix our crumbling roads, bridges and mass transit; and protect our environment. 

And, considering what it is New Jersey sends to Washington, I will work with our congressional delegation to bring more federal dollars back to New Jersey.

Make no mistake, bad policy decisions have been made by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

I am determined to reverse the damage done by these decisions. 

I am determined to stop the bleeding.

I am determined – DETERMINED – to fix our broken state.

This isn’t going to be easy, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Powerful special interests have co-opted Phil Murphy. Powerful special interests looking out for themselves, while hard-working, everyday New Jerseyans get screwed.

I’m angry about it. I know you are too. Let’s harness that anger. Let’s do something about it.

We want a New Jersey where seniors aren’t pushed out of their homes.

Where people can afford to raise a family. Where families sit down to Sunday dinners again.

Where our children pursue skilled jobs in the trades. Where our children return after graduating college.

Where people want to start a business. 

Where people believe they can achieve their American Dream.

Let’s be forthright. Let’s be honest and address THE question I’m often asked: Can a Republican win?

Of course we can. And with your support, of course I can.

History tells us so. Not in 42 years . . . Not Jim Florio, not Jim McGreevey, not Jon Corzine . . . Not in 42 years have the people of New Jersey RE-ELECTED a Democratic Governor.

Together, we’re gonna make sure the same goes for Phil Murphy. He’s ONE and DONE in ’21.    

People want change. They want to believe in New Jersey again. Let’s give them a reason.

All we need is the right kind of leader. The right kind of message. The right kind of energy.

All we need is the right kind of plan. One with laser-focus on fiscal responsibility, lowering property taxes, and making New Jersey business friendly.   

We also need to embrace the changing demographic, ever mindful that the demographic of this country has been changing for 243 years.

Ever mindful that, here in New Jersey, the most diverse state in the nation, there is great strength in our cultural diversity.

Ever mindful that it matters not where anyone is from, but where we are going.

Folks, candidates matter. CANDIDATES MATTER!

I’ve won seven general elections, often in races where Democrats outnumbered Republicans, sometimes significantly.

I won because I never took anyone for granted, and always showed respect for others.

I won because I went everywhere. Met with everyone. Listened to everyone.

I won because I offered a conservatism marked by ideas. Answers. Solutions.

I won because I kept my word.

I won because I always refused taxpayer-funded health benefits for these part-time elected positions.

I won because I term-limited myself every time. 

I won because I fought the good fight; voted my conscience;

And did what I thought was best, not politically convenient. 

That’s the kind of campaign you can expect from Candidate Ciattarelli.

That’s the kind of leadership you can expect from Governor Ciattarelli.

You still ready?

Well then, with your support, here’s what I plan to do over the course of the next 651 days . . .

I will visit towns all throughout our 21 counties, sharing with residents, even those who may disagree with me, a positive message . . . A vision . . . A plan . . .

. . . To fix our broken state; to restore people’s faith in government; and to deliver on the promise of our state motto . . .


It all starts right here. It all starts right now.

Together, Let’s Fix New Jersey!

Thank you.

Jack 4 NJ