- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A Republican gubernatorial candidate who scaled back his campaign while undergoing cancer treatment said Tuesday he’s now cured and he’s citing his treatment in a political attack on two opponents.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, in an email to media Tuesday, said he has outlined clear plans, just as his cancer doctors did. He said that is different from his opponents in the race to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who is term-limited.

Democratic candidate Phil Murphy “sold out” to interest groups by reversing views laid out in a 2005 report calling for raising public workers’ retirement, Ciattarelli wrote. And, Republican hopeful Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s plan to audit Trenton amounts to a platitude, he said.

“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 said. “I am glad Murphy and Guadagno were not my doctors.”

In an emailed response to the Associated Press, Ciattarelli said the earlier email was not an attack but rather “a reality check.”

“I am going to speak to the people of New Jersey the way my doctors spoke to me: Blunt,” he said.

Guadagno spokesman Ricky Diaz said Guadagno congratulates Ciattarelli on beating cancer and called her plan to review spending in Trenton “bold.”

Murphy’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking reaction.

The pointed attack comes after Ciattarelli announced last month that he was scaling back his campaign due to neck cancer treatment.

He said he noticed a lump on his neck in early October and that doctors removed the cancer and lymph nodes on both sides of his neck in November.

He underwent radiation starting in mid-December and said last month it’s no longer possible to continue to campaign every day. Ciattarelli has resumed campaigning full time, according to an email on behalf of the candidate from his campaign.

Ciattarelli cited a 2005 report that Murphy put together for former Democratic Acting Gov. Richard Codey. In the report, Murphy called for a number of changes, including increasing the retirement age and ending cost-of-living increases for pensioners. Those provisions are opposed by public-sector unions, who now back Murphy, who has, since the report, endorsed a constitutional amendment requiring a full pension payment. Ciattarelli is calling Murphy’s new position a “reversal.”

Guadagno recently unveiled plans to “audit Trenton,” including looking at selling off under-used property owned by the state.

The primary is in June. New Jersey residents will elect a new governor in November.

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