New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy won re-election Wednesday, a victory that saved Democrats from the loss of a second gubernatorial seat.
He is the first Democratic governor of the state to serve a second consecutive term in 44 years, defeating former New Jersey General Assembly member Jack Ciatarelli.
The AP called the race Wednesday evening when a new batch of Republican-leaning Monmouth County votes boosted Murphy’s lead and closed the door for a Siatarelli return.
The remainder of the ballots were counted, which included a significant number of votes from the predominantly Democratic Essex County, as well as mail-in votes spread across other counties. Murphy won the mail-in vote by a wide margin, even in Republican leaning counties such as Monmouth.
Ciattarelli spokesman Stamy Williams disputed the call due to the close margin, calling it “irresponsible”.
Ciattarelli waged a formidable campaign in heavily Democratic New Jersey, his spending nearly equal to that of the governor, and surpassing the GOP’s performance four years earlier. But Murphy’s advantages, which include 1 million more registered Democrats, proved too much for Republicans to take away.
The victory gives Democrats a silver lining after GOP businessman Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race – raising concerns that President Joe Biden’s lax approval rating is hurting the party. This year’s election was the first major test of voter sentiment since Biden took office.
The closeness of the race surprised experts, who saw Murphy comfortably leading the way in public elections and his party’s registration advantage.
Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University, said, “If you asked someone within the state several months ago, I think someone would have predicted a high double-digit landslide for Murphy. “
Murphy’s victory also ended the party’s more than three-decade-long trend of contrasting presidential victory in the race for New Jersey’s off-year governor. Voters turned out to have much higher rates for Ciattarelli this year than for his GOP predecessor in 2017.
The 64-year-old governor said he was fully aware of political trends, calling him an “animating” force for his re-election effort, which prompted him to run as if he were 10 points behind.
Murphy built his campaign around progressive achievements—such as a phased out, $15-an-hour minimum wage and paid sick leave with taxes on the wealthy—and brought on Democratic allies such as progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. to campaign for him.
With a Democrat-led legislature, Murphy achieved most of the promises he made in his first run four years ago, when he struggled to succeed Republican Chris Christie. Paid sick leave, taxpayer-funded community colleges and some pre-kindergartens, stricter gun laws, expanded voting access, recreational marijuana, more state aid for schools and fully funded public pensions – all promised and all distributed during the first term. The proposal of a public bank to finance the projects remained incomplete.
Murphy is a former Goldman Sachs executive and served as ambassador to Germany under former President Barack Obama, who campaigned for Murphy a few weeks before Election Day.
Wade in the state, as well as implementing additional gun control laws and a Reproductive Freedom Act aimed at expanding taxpayer-funded pre-kindergarten to 3-year-olds. will be in
Ben Dworkin, director of Rowan University’s Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship, said the problems Democrats are facing, such as Biden’s falling approval rating and congressional Democrats’ struggle to implement their agenda, said some experts’ pre-election analysis. There were not many factors. He counted himself among them.
A spokesman for Ciatarelli said Wednesday that the campaign was focused on counting the votes and said a possible legal search for a recount was on the table. Murphy also called Wednesday morning for every vote to be counted.
New Jersey does not have an automatic recounting law, but candidates are allowed to request one. The party that wants to be recounted must file a lawsuit in the State Superior Court in the counties where they want to contest. This has to be done within 17 days of the election day.
Ciattarelli is a former state assembly member, serving as of 2018. He is the founder of a medical publishing company called Galen Publishing, and served as a local and county official in Somerset.
He walked a line between standing up for his liberal stance in the legislature – like Roe v. Wade—and appealing to Republicans who embrace Trump, especially on cultural issues that have attracted nationwide attention.