New York Times, October 2021
Six weeks after announcing that grade-school students in New Jersey would again need to wear masks in class, Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, issued a new executive order, his 264th: Children 2 and older in day care centers would also have to wear face coverings. The howls of opposition were quick and fierce, and it became an immediate talking point for Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican challenging Mr. Murphy’s bid for re-election.
“This is unconstitutional, un-American and has no scientific backing,” a fund-raising email from Mr. Ciattarelli and his running mate, Diane Allen, said of the practice, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New Jersey’s contest, which along with Virginia’s is one of just two governor’s races in the country before next year’s midterm elections, is seen by some as an early barometer of voter sentiment.
“The takeaway will be: Are we competitive or not?” said Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican and former congressman who lost his seat in the 2018 midterms as Democrats angered by President Donald J. Trump and his policies flipped control of the House. Mr. Murphy has tried to lash Mr. Ciattarelli to Mr. Trump, who lost to President Biden in New Jersey by 16 points—offering a likely preview of the kinds of attacks to come during the midterms next year.