Expect to hear a lot of John Mellencamp’s little ditty about Jack and Diane when the Garden State’s GOP gubernatorial candidates campaign hits your town this year.
That is because Jack Ciattarelli selected former Assemblywoman and State Sen. Diane Allen to be his running mate as Lieutenant Governor with two formal events on Aug. 4.
“Diane is committed as I am to reduce the tax burden on the residents of this state. Everyone should feel confident they can achieve their American Dream in New Jersey,” said Ciattarelli in making the announcement. “She is joining me on this ticket as a true partner in our fight to fix our broken state. Diane has spent her career in public service fighting on behalf of people who were forgotten or overlooked or ignored.”
Allen, a 22-year lawmaker in the state legislature, boasts a strong bipartisan record. In fact, one of Gov. Phil Murphy’s first acts in office was signing the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which strengthened protections for pay equity and employment discrimination. At the bill signing, Murphy told Allen who had advocated for the measure for years that the new law “cements your legacy as a lawmaker who worked across the aisle to do the right things for our state.”
Allen is a South Jersey legislator form Edgewater Park who won six elections in a largely Democratic district along the Delaware River. Prior to launching her political career 26 years ago, Allen was widely-known as a television news anchor and journalist. She was the New Jersey Network statehouse reporter during Brendan Byrne’s first term as governor as well as a news anchor for ABC and CBS affiliates in Philadelphia.
Allen was an early supporter of Ciattarelli’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor and was was chosen to supervise his campaign’s anti-harassment policies. Ciattarelli portrayed Murphy as having a dismal record on women’s issues in contrast with Allen.
“She is a champion for equality and a trailblazer for women’s rights, respected by Democrats, Republicans and Independents across New Jersey,” stated Ciattarelli. “That stands in stark contrast to Phil Murphy, who has a troubling and shameful track record of repeatedly siding with powerful men at the expense of women who are victims of abuse, harassment, and even rape.”
Prior to being elected to political office, Allen filed three complaints against CBS with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging sexism and age discrimination. In 1994, Allen sued CBS for discriminatory practices and won. As a legislator, Allen championed women’s rights issues such as pay equity and fighting workplace discrimination and harassment.
This was not the first time Allen, 73, was a consideration for the number two spot on the GOP ticket. Twelve years ago, Allen was reportedly the runner-up in the Lt. Governor sweepstakes when Republican Chris Christie picked Kim Guadagno as his running mate.
Allen’s legislative accomplishments while serving in Trenton from the 7th Legislative District include authoring the NJSAVER rebate plan as well as sponsoring legislation to help senior citizens double their Homestead Rebate checks. A moderate Republican, she served as Senate Majority Whip when Republicans controlled the Senate, and later as Deputy Minority Leader.
After deciding not to run for office in 2017, Allen launched a political action committee to encourage women from both parties to run for public office, emphasizing putting people ahead of party politics and appealing to their bases.
Ciattarelli highlighted Allen’s ability to repeatedly win a heavily Democratic legislative district and both sharing the trait of going to areas where other Republicans won’t go, listening to people and hearing their concerns.
“As a team, a true partnership, we will work together with each other and across the aisle to find the best competing ideas, find the common ground between them, and move our state forward,” concluded Ciattarelli.