New Jersey’s Governor’s Race is Too Close to Call

Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a first-term Democrat, was facing a fierce challenge from his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli.,

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New Jersey’s governor’s race is too close to call.

“We have sent a message to the entire country,” said Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican challenging Philip D. Murphy for governor of New Jersey. Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times
  • Nov. 3, 2021, 5:40 a.m. ET

The race for governor of New Jersey was too close to call early Wednesday, as Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a first-term Democrat, fought to hold on to his seat in the face of a fierce challenge from his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli.

At about 12:30 a.m., both candidates took the stages at their election-night parties to tell supporters that the results of the contest would not be clear until all provisional and vote-by-mail ballots were counted.

“We’re all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration that we wanted it to be,” said Mr. Murphy, surrounded by his family in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall. “But as I said: When every vote is counted — and every vote will be counted — we hope to have a celebration again.”

Mr. Ciattarelli, 59, said much the same thing, but appeared far more relaxed after outperforming every public opinion poll conducted during the campaign in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 1.1 million voters.

“We have sent a message to the entire country,” Mr. Ciattarelli told supporters gathered in Bridgewater. “But this is what I love about this state, if you study its history: Every single time it’s gone too far off track, the people of this state have pushed, pulled and prodded it right back to where it needs to be.”

At 4 a.m., the candidates remained in a statistical dead heat, with about 12 percent of votes still uncounted.

Regardless of who wins, the razor-thin margin has made clear just how divided voters are about the tough policies Mr. Murphy imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, and his liberal agenda on taxation, climate change and racial equity.

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“We’re all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration that we wanted it to be,” Gov. Philip D. Murphy said, surrounded by his family, in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall. Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Mr. Murphy, a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany, had campaigned on the unabashedly left-leaning agenda he pushed through during this first term.

But the defining issue of the campaign was the pandemic, which has killed about 28,000 residents, hobbled much of the region’s economy and disrupted the education of 1.3 million public school students.

Mr. Murphy was one of the last governors to repeal an indoor mask mandate and among the first to require teachers to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing

Mr. Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman, made Mr. Murphy’s strict pandemic edicts a centerpiece of his campaign. The Republican opposed Covid-19 vaccine mandates and mandatory masking in schools, and he blamed Mr. Murphy’s early lockdown orders for hurting small businesses and keeping students out of school for too long.

Kevin Armstrong and Lauren Hard contributed reporting.

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