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Grapevine: Ciattarelli makes his push for governor

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. - ()

The race for the Republican nomination for governor in New Jersey is still Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s to lose.

That’s if you put any stock into poll numbers.

Late last month, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll had Guadagno leading all Republican candidates with 24 percent support, well above the 5 percent support being registered by the second-place candidate, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerville).

But out in the field, sources say, Ciattarelli continues to impress. Despite being behind in the polls, he has been able to grab the endorsements of seven counties away from Guadagno and has arguably gained voters along the way.

“I’ve seen him speak at a couple of places,” said one source. “He stays on message.”

Calling Ciattarelli an “up and comer,” one source notes that the three-term assemblyman is clearly “passioniate” when he speaks and is connecting with folks willing to give him a second look.

“He’s building some kind of momentum,” the source said. “Whatever that is.”

Still, however, Guadagno remains the frontrunner, by all accounts. Not only does she have an excellent reputation among the state’s business community, but she also has strong connections at the county and municipal levels, a source added.

Now, one source noted, she needs to market herself “beyond the ribbon-cuttings” and showcase herself to voters.

Mack-Cali machinations lead to speculation

So, was Mack-Cali Realty Corp.’s Mitchell Rudin promoted, demoted or just given a job that is a lateral move?

That was the question many sources in the real estate industry wanted to know after it was announced that Rudin would become vice chairman of Mack-Cali while Michael DeMarco was named the new CEO.

Rudin previously served as CEO while DeMarco was president and chief operating officer.

“This is a clear win for DeMarco,” one source said.

Another wasn’t so sure.

“If you talk to a lot of people, Rudin is the person they know and the go-to-guy,” the source said.

Most said something along these lines:

“It just goes to show that co-leaders doesn’t work.”

“You knew this wasn’t going to last,” a source said. “They’re personalities didn’t mesh from Day One.”

Of course this didn’t stop the two from being successful.

“Whether they get along or not doesn’t matter; they certainly have put the company on more solid footing,” a source said.

Looking back at Christie

As Gov. Chris Christie heads into the final months of his administration, one source gave an interesting look back at his failed presidential run.

“We’ve got to get off the governor,” the source said. “I get it. He tried and failed, but that doesn’t diminish everything he was able to accomplish. And then there’s this: He almost became president of the United States.

“Whether you like him or not, that’s an incredible accomplishment. He’s the only person I know who can say that.”

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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