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Ciattarelli defeats Trump loyalists in GOP primary to take on Murphy

Less than two hours after polling stations closed, Mr Ciattarelli was named the winner by The Associated Press. He had won 49.6 percent of the vote in the four-man race for the Republican nomination late Tuesday. His victory comes four years after a second place in the primary behind Kim Guadagno, the then lieutenant governor.

“Tonight the New Jerseyans have shown they are ready for a change and we are just getting started,” Mr Ciattarelli, 59, said in a statement. “The fact is, our state is struggling after four years of Murphy’s failed leadership.”

“We’re going to make New Jersey more affordable by lowering property taxes,” he added. “We will create jobs. We’re going to bring the little shops on Main Street back to life. We will reduce the size and cost of government. “

The Republican primary was seen as a test of the strength of Trump’s militant policies among New Jersey believers, and public discourse often touched on issues from the divisive tenure of the former president: the mask-wearing policy and the legitimacy of Mr Biden’s victory.

“We all know Trump won,” said Hirsh Singh, an aerospace engineer and self-proclaimed Trump Republican who recently ran his fourth campaign for office when he ran against Mr. Ciattarelli in the primary public debate. Only Mr Singh and Mr Ciattarelli qualified for public funding, which made them eligible for the debate.

But it was Philip Rizzo, a pastor and real estate developer, who also allied with Mr Trump, who was in second place late Tuesday with nearly 26 percent of the Republican vote, four percentage points ahead of Mr Singh. Brian Levine, a former mayor of Franklin, NJ, finished fourth.

Turnout was low, with fewer than 1 in 5 registered Republicans voting.

Political analysts said the results could put pressure on Mr Ciattarelli to address national issues popular with Trump supporters rather than the motives of good government and fiscal responsibility that are more common among mainstream Republicans and the state’s 2.4 million independent voters Find approval.

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