The current putative frontrunner for the 2025 New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nomination, Jack Ciattarelli is a profoundly decent man. His career in public service has been characterized by integrity, competency, and decency. His success as a businessman has been distinguished by remarkable business ethics and acumen.
Jack Ciattarelli is also a man without a scintilla of bigotry of any variety, whether racial, religious, or ethnic. Yet ironically, he was defeated in the 2025 gubernatorial race due to overwhelming rejection of him by New Jersey African-American voters.
The landslide against Jack in the African-American community was due to one factor and one factor alone: The identification of Jack Ciattarelli by African-American voters as an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, by far the most racist president to occupy the Oval Office in post-World War Two America and a most despised political figure among People of Color.
There is no credible way to deny the lifetime racism of Donald Trump. Three episodes in his life stand out: 1) the 1973 US Department of Justice action against him and his father, Fred, for their alleged refusal to rent apartments in predominantly white buildings to Black tenants; 2) his call for the death penalty for the Central Park Five and failure to withdraw his advocacy of same after their exoneration; and 3) his support for the “Birther movement” during the Obama administration, claiming that Obama was ineligible to serve as President, based upon the false claim that he was born in Kenya.
Yet Jack has never acknowledged the role that his identification with Trump played in his abysmal showing in the African American community. In response to questions from the media about the overwhelming rejection of him by People of Color, Jack mused aloud that maybe he needed to hire more Black staffers.
That was a fatuous and ineffectual response by Ciattarelli, who is certainly not a political dolt. Yet it was hardly unexpected. Since his gubernatorial primary election defeat in 2017, when it comes to repudiating Donald Trump, Jack Ciattarelli, a man of not insubstantial political courage has been the quintessence of political timidity.
In the Republican 2017 GOP gubernatorial primary, Jack Ciattarelli was a true Kennedyesque Profile in Courage in his unequivocal denunciation of Donald Trump as a “charlatan.” Yet by 2020, Jack was living in political terror of the Maga Monster. Facing a prospective gubernatorial primary challenge from State Senator Doug Steinhardt in 2021, then the NJGOP Chair and an unabashed Trumpist, Jack engaged in a full-throated embrace of Donald Trump and the Maga movement. He even spoke at Maga-endorsed rallies.
This embrace of the Donald by Ciattarelli was a major factor in stimulating thousands of African-American voters to go to the polls in the 2021 general election for governor, just to vote against Jack Ciattarelli. They viewed him as Trump’s surrogate in New Jersey, and his gubernatorial defeat became an African-American imperative.
Yet since his gubernatorial defeat in November, 2021, Jack Ciattarelli has done nothing to repudiate or even distance himself from Donald Trump. He continues to live in fear of the influence the Mago Monster has on the NJGOP base.
Ciattarelli’s dire fear is that even the slightest rebuke by him of Trump will result in his defeat in the 2025 gubernatorial primary by the Avatar of Magaworld, Bill Spadea. Yet without such repudiation of Trump, Ciattarelli will once again incur an overwhelming rejection by African-American voters in the 2025 general gubernatorial election, if he makes it that far.
And there are two overriding aspects of the District of Columbia indictment that will relegate the NJGOP for at least a decade to certain defeat in any statewide election, gubernatorial or US Senate, regardless of the identity of the Republican candidate.
The first is the high likelihood that Donald Trump and the Fascist Armies of Maga will engage in a vicious continuing racist attack against the presiding judge in the DC case, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, a woman of Asian and Black descent and an impeccably stellar reputation as a jurist. When combined with the anticipated vile Trump racist defamation of supremely competent prosecutor Fani Willis in Georgia, this will create a permanent indelible image among New Jersey African-Americans that Donald Trump is their mortal enemy.
Cowed by the fear of the Maga driven Republican base, Republican New Jersey leaders will maintain a craven silence in the face of the Trump vile racist rhetoric. The silence of the New Jersey Republican leadership on Trump bigotry will ensure that the image of the entire New Jersey Republican Party is one of profound ineradicable hatred of People of Color.
As a result, no statewide Republican candidate will receive a vote in any election exceeding a single digit among African-American voters. There will be a Jim Crow aspect of the polarization of Blacks and Whites in New Jersey. In predominantly white working-class legislative districts, white grievance politics may drive these districts into the GOP column. In statewide elections, however, the solidarity of the African-American community against the GOP will doom the GOP to defeat.
The second aspect of the Trump District of Columbia trial resulting in permanent alienation of the African-American community from the NJGOP is the subject matter of a certain count in the indictment. I speak specifically of the count accusing Trump of engaging in a “conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted.” This count is filed under Section 241 of the United States Code, known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.
The key evidence under this count will be the Republican efforts, based on spurious grounds of fraud, to invalidate the Black vote and keep it from being counted in major African -American urban centers, including, but not limited to, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. Night after night, African-American television viewers will absorb the frightening truth that on voting rights, the Republican Party has become the party of Jim Crow.
For New Jersey African-Americans, the District of Columbia trial of Donald Trump will bring home on television a frightening reality. The Republican Party in the Garden State, which at one time was the party of racial inclusion under Robert and Tom Kean, has become the fascist Maga dominated party which on the national level is dedicated to the deprivation of the right to vote by People of Color. In New Jersey, this devolution of the Republican Party into domination by Magaworld will doom it to an era of statewide defeat and political and policy irrelevance.
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission