TRENTON, N.J. – The Republian field for the 2021 gubernatorial nomination may be at least six strong (or weak, depending upon your perspective) by early next year.
On Friday, 2020 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Rik Mehta issued an online ‘thank you’ note to supporters which appeared to stop just short of announcing a 2021 Republican primary bid.
“…to the people of New Jersey, the small business owners like Ian and Frank from Atilis gym, who made their gym my campaign site, Jenny from Randolph Tennis Center, Brian from Lakeside Diner, Alaina from 240 Salon and countless other small businesses devastated by our hypocritical Governor’s disastrous policies, and who have fought back valiantly against a tone-deaf government, I stood with you then, I stand with you now, and I will stand with you going forward,” said Mehta on Facebook after referring to his recently concluded campaign as a ‘job interview.’ “Because, this is not the end of our journey this is just beginning and we will not stop until we make New Jersey a place to live, not leave.”
Mehta’s essay focused more on New Jersey-specific issues than the national issues usually at issue in a federal race.
He hadn’t responded to a Friday afternoon inquiry as to whether he’s running for governor at the time of this post’s publication.
An Indian American pharmacist and attorney, Mehta lost to Cory Booker (D-Twitter) by 16.4-points with 98% of ballots tabulated.
Should he enter the 2021 race to take on Murphy, he’ll need to get by:
- Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) who has already announced and raised approximately $800k
- NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt who is 99.99% likely to run but not yet announced
- Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick who is making calls to gauge support
- Hirsh Singh, a millennial from Atlantic County who narrowly lost to Mehta in this year’s Senate primary; Singh is still attempting to challenge the result in court while simultaneously launching his own primary bid for governor
- Facebook active political gadfly Joseph Rudy Rullo (who ran unsuccessfully in the 2017 gubernatorial primary) is also considered a possible primary entry