Piscopo Will Not Run for NJ Governor, Supports Guadagno

Joe Piscopo endorsed Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno for governor. Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage

Yesteryear comedian Joe Piscopo on Wednesday pulled the plug on his plans to run for governor and endorsed Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican candidate.

Piscopo, who supported Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race, for months toyed with the idea of running as a Republican. After failing to file before the primary deadline, he then mused about running as an independent. And in a recent interview, he then mentioned he might run for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s seat next year.

During his radio show on AM 970 on Wednesday morning, the SNL alum formally laid to rest his designs on the governorship. He had a meeting last weekend with Guadagno and said he did not want to divide New Jersey by entering the race as an independent when he and the lieutenant governor shared a similar vision for the state.

But he also avoided what could have been an expensive and quixotic bid. Independent candidates have never done well in New Jersey. And Piscopo had several stumbles during his months of flirtation with a gubernatorial run. Before endorsing Guadagno, he said in March that there was “no way a Republican can win in New Jersey.”

“It is with an extremely heavy heart that I announce here today that I will not be entering the gubernatorial race in New Jersey at this time,” Piscopo said. “But I will be active in future politics and it is with a great deal of personal enthusiasm and with what I believe to be the best interest of all the people of New Jersey that I throw my support to the lieutenant governor and the next governor of New Jersey, Kim Guadagno.”

Guadagno joined Piscopo on air to thank him for his endorsement. Candidates have struggled with name recognition this year, and the endorsement from Piscopo may help Guadagno boost her public profile. In the June 6 primary, Guadagno’s main rival is Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-Somerset).

“I know there are a lot of people in this room who are disappointed you are not running for governor,” Guadagno said. “I thank you, Joe Piscopo for endorsing me today. I humbly accept that endorsement and I am proud to be a part of your team to make New Jersey a better place for everybody.”

Ciattarelli called the whole thing puzzling.

“Let me get this straight: Lt. Gov. Guadagno, who says Republicans can’t win the state Legislature this November, just accepted the endorsement of a lifelong Democrat who says Republicans can’t win the governor’s race in November?” he said in a statement. “This announcement makes obvious just how much we need to go in a new direction.”