New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly wins re-election

Governor Phil Murphy | Photo courtesy of Facebook

Phil Murphy narrowly defeated his GOP opponent Jack Ciattarelli, becoming the first Democratic governor to win reelection in New Jersey since 1977, according to a projection by The Associated Press on Wednesday evening, Nov. 3.

AP said that ballots remaining to be counted included a significant number of votes from predominantly Democratic Essex County, along with mail-in votes spread across other counties. Murphy has won the mail-in vote by a wide margin even in Republican-leaning counties like Monmouth.

The victory provides good news for Democrats after a tough night on Tuesday, where incumbent Terry McAuliffe suffered a huge upset and lost his campaign for another term as governor to Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Both campaigns in New Jersey did not declare victory on election night as the candidates were largely neck and neck as results rolled in and were separated by less than one percentage point, making the race still too close to call by early Wednesday.

Murphy apologized to his supporters in Asbury Park shortly after midnight.

“We’re all sorry that tonight cannot yet be the celebration we wanted it to be. But when every vote is counted — and every vote will be counted — we hope to have a celebration,” he said.

Former State Assembly member Ciattarelli on the other hand spoke to his supporters in Bridgewater.  “I wanted to come out here tonight because I prepared one hell of a victory speech. I wanted to come out here tonight because we won. But I’m here to tell you that we’re winning,” he told supporters.

Stami Williams, Ciattarelli’s campaign spokesperson, posted on Twitter that the call for Murphy’s victory was “irresponsible” given the tightness of the race and the outstanding ballots to be counted.

According to the AP, Murphy had won 50% of the vote, with Ciattarelli at 49.2%, and about 19,300 votes separated the two candidates, with 98% of precincts reporting.

President Biden overwhelmingly won in New Jersey in 2020, defeating Donald Trump by almost 16 points.

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