How NJ Guv hopeful Jack Ciattarelli battled cancer and won the fight of his life
New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarell found himself falling behind his Republican challenger on Tuesday, November 2, as voters now decide who is set to lead the Garden State next. As of the night of November 2, Phil Murphy is trailing Ciattarelli by more than two points. In a Monmouth University survey released last month, Murphy was seen polling more than 10 points ahead of Ciattarelli, making the public believe that he is likely to win.
Ciattarell on Monday, November 1, slammed Governor Phil Murphy for making the state government "inefficient". "New Jerseyans are the highest taxed people in the nation and this is a guy who said he wanted to make New Jersey the California of the East Coast. But then he topped that and poked his finger right in the eye of New Jerseyans when he said, if taxes are your issue, we're probably not your state. I mean, he poked him right in the eye," Jack Ciattarelli said in an interview with Fox News.
"So we've talked all about property taxes, ours are the highest in nation; and making New Jersey a better place to do business, particularly for small business. Year over year over year, New Jersey is ranked the worst place in the country in which to do business. We've also got a state government that's bloated, it's inefficient, and it's been corrupted by special interests. Those are the three main fiscal, economic issues that I've talked about all throughout this campaign, and it's resonated with New Jerseyans," he added.
How Jack Ciattarelli won the fight of his life
Jack Ciattarelli had announced back in 2017 that he was cancer-free. Back then, Ciattarelli had taken a jibe at two of his opponents, saying he was glad that they were not the ones to treat him. He had earlier revealed that he was diagnosed with throat cancer.
In an email to the media, Ciattarelli had clarified that he beat the disease through "aggressive treatment". He had said that his illness was not "easy," "fun," or "pain-free", adding that New Jersey faced a similar predicament. He added that he had a specific plan to rescue the state, unlike Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Kim Guadagno, who were then two of the race's leading candidates.
"The difference between Murphy and Guadagno and me is that I have the courage to tell voters the truth and outline a clear prescription for how to fix our state," Ciattarelli wrote. "I am glad Murphy and Guadagno were not my doctors." He had told NJ Advance Media that he thought the "analogy was too compelling not to share." "The doctor gave me tough news, they have me hard medicine, and I followed their orders," he said. "And now I'm rocking and rolling. I feel the situation is the same here in New Jersey."
“What I was thinking is that God has a sense of humor in a lot of different ways,” Observer had earlier quoted Ciattarelli, then 55. "The notion of hearing that you have cancer is just a very shocking and surreal experience. After you hear the word cancer, the next question is, ‘How much time do I have?’”
While battling the illness, the cancer had also spread to two lymph nodes on his left side, reaching stage 4. When Ciattarelli saw an ear, nose and throat specialist, he was told that “with a new type of robotic surgery, this would be curable, and I would be able to continue with my life in every way, including the gubernatorial campaign."
A Hillsborough resident, Ciattarelli has been married to his wife Melinda for over two decades now. The duo has four children. “Despite all the assurances of the doctors, the words cancer and death just seem to be tied together,” he had said. “And so, family members’ initial reaction was one of shock and sadness. So it took some convincing that the doctors have said that this is a very, very curable form of cancer.”
Eventually, Ciattarelli had his tonsils and lymph nodes on both sides of his neck removed. “Robotic surgery makes for phenomenal precision and an exceptional pathology, and indeed that was the case,” Ciattarelli said. “The robotic surgery also just makes for a very, very speedy recovery.”
At that time, Ciattarelli had to undergo radiation five days a week, which led to him having a hard time swallowing. It subsequently led to the loss of appetite, stamina, as well as weight loss. During the radiation treatment, he lost 25 pounds. However, following the announcement of his recovery, Ciattarelli had said, "I feel strong. I love the grind of the campaign trail. I love the physical, emotional, intellectual challenge of it, I love the competitive aspect of it and I just love getting out and pressing the flesh.”