The Republican frontrunner for governor in 2025 has separated from his wife.

Jack Ciattarelli, who Gov. Phil Murphy defeated in 2021, this week announced the news that he and his wife had split earlier this year.

The statement came after social media posts showed his wife had been at an event attended by one of Ciattarelli's conservative critics, Bill Spadea. The New Jersey 101.5 host is considered by many political observers to be Ciattarelli's potential rival for the GOP nod, although Spadea has not announced any candidacy.

“Recent social media posts have a great many people wondering about my family and our personal lives,” Ciattarelli said in a written statement published by the New Jersey Globe and

“The sad news is that Melinda and I have separated earlier this year. I am very proud of the job we did raising our four adult children who are all very successful and whom we both love very much.”

Melinda Ciattarelli's appearance at the Women for Common Sense New Jersey event was touted by the Gloucester County GOP page on Facebook but not by Spadea himself.

Jack Ciattarelli, Diane Allen
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, center, is joined by his wife Melinda, right, and candidate for Lt. Gov. Diane Allen 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)

In a statement to the conservative Save Jersey website, Melinda Ciattarelli said she was "there to support the women leaders" and to "show that we have to keep our differences aside and unite communities together."

Melinda Ciattarelli made headlines during her husband's campaign in 2021 when she confronted the campaign manager of a Republican opponent.

Melinda Ciattarelli confront King Penna.
Melinda Ciattarelli confront King Penna.

The encounter between Melinda Ciattarelli and King Penna — which Penna's associate captured on camera — happened at New Jersey 101.5 building where the two were watching a TV screen showing Ciattarelli and Hirsh Singh debate in the studio.

Penna's treatment of Melinda Ciattarelli earned the attention of Murphy.

"Attacking a political opponent's family is appalling and disgraceful," the Democrat said in response. "Hirsh Singh should immediately apologize to the Ciattarellis. This is a new low."

A photo of the Ciattarellis still appears at the top of the Republican's Facebook page.

Jack Ciattarelli's Facebook page with a photo of him and his wife.
Jack Ciattarelli's Facebook page with a photo of him and his wife.

Ciattarelli, 61, is making his third bid for the governor's office. Previously, he had been an assemblyman representing Somerset County.

Political commentator Matt Rooney, writing on his Save Jersey site, wondered whether the separation would impact the race.

"The end of a marriage no longer carries the stigma that it once did in the American public life," Rooney says. "The sometimes messy nature of a marriage’s public end nevertheless injects an extra level of uncertainty into what is already an extremely difficult process under even ordinary circumstances."

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