Republican group targets Murphy’s trip to Italy in new ad

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The Republican Governors Association launched a six-figure advertising campaign on Thursday criticizing Democratic Governor Phil Murphy for vacationing with his family at their villa in Italy as New Jersey continues to face a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement – which will air on statewide television and digital platforms – is the first the RGA has aired as Murphy runs for re-election on Nov. 2 against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.

The RGA is a group that aims to elect Republicans to governorates across the United States. Besides New Jersey, only Virginia has a governor’s race this year.

“New Jersey has suffered from the COVID pandemic,” the narrator says in the 30-second clip. “Now COVID cases are skyrocketing again. But where is Governor Phil Murphy? Instead of guiding us through this new crisis, he flew to his luxurious Italian villa for a vacation.

“In November, treat Phil Murphy the same way he treats you – leave him behind,” announces the narrator.

RGA spokesman Will Reinert said in a statement that New Jersey voters “can count on” Ciattarelli, a former state assembly member, to “overthrow the state”.

Murphy’s campaign declined to comment on the ad.

Murphy is expected to return Thursday afternoon after 10 days in Italy. It was his first vacation out of state since COVID-19 began to spread in New Jersey in March 2020.

“After the past 17 months, spending a few days together is something we all want to do with our families, and I can’t wait,” the governor said last week.

The trip comes as New Jersey – an epicenter of the early pandemic and home to the most COVID-19 deaths per capita in the United States – has seen its coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rise again as the variant highly transmissible delta spreads. The state reported 1,641 more confirmed cases and 10 more confirmed deaths on Thursday, while the number of people hospitalized statewide exceeded 900 patients for the first time since mid-May.

The numbers are increasing across the country, especially in the South. Six states, according to reports, have seen their number of positive COVID-19 cases increase by more than 400% in recent weeks: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Florida and Texas have also garnered attention for rock climbing figures. Of these, only Louisiana has a Democratic governor.

Across the aisle on Thursday, the New Jersey Democratic Party released a statement criticizing Ciattarelli for comments he made against Murphy’s plan for students to wear masks back to school this fall.

Ciattarelli said at a Toms River school board meeting Wednesday night that masks “inhibit learning” and “negatively affect a child’s intellectual and emotional development.”

“Ignoring the science and common sense on COVID, Jack Ciattarelli appears to be running for governor from Texas or Florida – not New Jersey,” said Phil Swibinski, spokesperson for the Democratic State Committee, in the party’s statement. “Across the country, Republican governors are putting the public at risk by refusing to adopt sensible public health measures like requiring masks in schools. “

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Pediatrics both recommend masking in schools. Children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated in the United States.

Stami Williams, spokesperson for Ciattarelli’s campaign, retorted that Murphy was the only “extremist in this race” and argued that there was “no consensus among the best scientists and doctors on the effectiveness of masks for schoolchildren ”. Williams also pointed to doctors at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Oxford and Harvard universities who have all “publicly stated their belief that masks can harm a child’s mental health more than they help protect it. his physical health “.

“Whether or not children wear masks in school should be up to parents and local communities to decide, not a single term, Trenton knows Governor Murphy’s best term,” Williams added.

It all comes a day after the Monmouth Polling Institute released a poll on Wednesday showing Murphy led Ciattarelli by 16 percentage points with just over two months in the race.

The survey also found that 41% of adults in New Jersey see the pandemic as one of the top two issues facing the state, while 46% say they trust Murphy more to handle the crisis. against 21% for Ciattarelli.

The RGA spent over $ 2.3 million in 2017 to support the then lieutenant. Governor Kim Guadagno as she challenged Murphy in the 2017 gubernatorial race. The Democratic Governors Association spent over $ 2.4 million on Murphy in this election.

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Brent Johnson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ johnsb01.



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