The next gubernatorial election in New Jersey doesn’t take place for another three years but one candidate is already raising money and public awareness, trying to make sure you don’t forget about him.

Jack Ciattarelli, who ran for governor against Phil Murphy in 2021 and lost a close race, has started sending out regular emails through his Mainstream Majority political action committee to raise money for another campaign in 2025.

Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said Ciattarelli is trying to let the rest of the potential field of Republican candidates know “he is the frontrunner, that he has claim to it as the former nominee.”

He said the message he’s sending is “stand by, stand back, I’ve got this. He’s trying to say that from the outset, so it sort of lets the rest of the candidates know where they stand.”

Running for governor is expensive

Ben Dworkin, the director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy at Rowan University, said mounting a successful campaign for governor is expensive because you eventually will have to buy TV commercials in New York and Philadelphia to reach everybody in the state.

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He said that means you need to start collecting donations early “in order to be able to generate those resources so they can deliver a message even if the election itself isn’t for a few years.”

Dworkin pointed out that meeting everybody and making connections in a state like New Jersey takes a lot of time and effort. Besides Chris Christie and Phil Murphy, “everybody else who ran for governor in recent political memory ran at least once before and lost, and then ran again.”

Rasmussen said that after Ciattarelli lost the GOP nomination for governor to former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in 2017 he was still traveling all over the place.

“He was in all 21 Counties,” he said. “He was at all the chicken dinners and when it came time for the nomination in 2021 a lot of people around the state felt like that was just a natural choice to turn to him.”

Dworkin said at this point, Ciattarelli is the first GOP candidate out of the starting gate but “there may be others."

Rasmussen said one guy besides Ciattarelli who is being talked about is State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland.

“He is not wasting any time, letting people know he is interested in doing bigger things.”

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