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Democrat Governor Phil Murphy wins reelection in the New Jersey gubernatorial race

Democrat Governor Phil Murphy wins reelection in the New Jersey gubernatorial race
The New Jersey gubernatorial race was finally called for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday evening

The New Jersey gubernatorial race was finally called for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday evening

The New Jersey gubernatorial race was finally called for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday evening 

The New Jersey gubernatorial race was officially called for Democrat Phil Murphy Wednesday evening after the contest was deemed too close to call nearly 24 hours after polls closed. 

The Associated Press called the election for the incumbent governor at 6:26 p.m. in a narrow victory in a state expected to be a landslide for President Joe Biden’s party.

With the victory, Murphy is the first Democrat to win a gubernatorial reelection in New Jersey in more than 40 years. 

Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli protested the call with a retweet from a post made by his communications director.

‘With the candidates separated by a fraction of a percent out of 2.4 million ballots cast, it’s irresponsible of the media to make this call when the New Jersey Secretary of State doesn’t even know how many ballots are left to be counted,’ Stami Williams tweeted Wednesday after the AP called the election for Murphy.

Murphy led Ciattarelli, a former New Jersey State lawmakers, by more than 16,000 votes Wednesday afternoon when 11 per cent of counties had yet to report, pulling out a wider lead thanks to returns from heavily-blue Mercer County, where the state capital of Trenton is located. 

Some have speculated the election could come down to a recount. 

Unlike some places, New Jersey does not have any minimum requirements or guidelines for an automatic recount. A candidate or group of at least 10 voters can petition a Superior Court judge for a recount up to 17 days after the election. 

The race has also been plagued by counting issues that led to vote tallies being doubled in one county and election workers accidentally locking machines in others. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli greets supporters in a hotel ballroom at his watch party on Tuesday in Bridgewater, New Jersey. After polls closed, there was just 1,200 votes separating the candidates – a very tight race for a state expected to be a landslide for Democrats

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli greets supporters in a hotel ballroom at his watch party on Tuesday in Bridgewater, New Jersey. After polls closed, there was just 1,200 votes separating the candidates – a very tight race for a state expected to be a landslide for Democrats

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli greets supporters in a hotel ballroom at his watch party on Tuesday in Bridgewater, New Jersey. After polls closed, there was just 1,200 votes separating the candidates – a very tight race for a state expected to be a landslide for Democrats

When the election was called for Murphy, Ciattarelli questioned the validity by retweeting his communications director's post claiming it was 'irresponsible' to call the election when it's so close and there are more ballots left to be counted

When the election was called for Murphy, Ciattarelli questioned the validity by retweeting his communications director's post claiming it was 'irresponsible' to call the election when it's so close and there are more ballots left to be counted

When the election was called for Murphy, Ciattarelli questioned the validity by retweeting his communications director’s post claiming it was ‘irresponsible’ to call the election when it’s so close and there are more ballots left to be counted

Technology issues in Paterson – located in Passaic County and Essex County – have brought a nail-biting delay in the vote count on Wednesday.

Election workers in the city accidentally locked themselves out of their new voting machines, which required a court order to regain access, according to the Paterson Press.

Fifty-six districts in the heavily-blue area of Essex County, where the city of Newark is located, were in limbo for hours because of what the county clerk called ‘poll worker error.’

‘Those machines have to be brought back to the warehouse and the judge will issue an order for us to open those machines, retrieve the results and post those results,’ clerk Christopher Durkin told News12 New Jersey. He said there would be an investigation into how it happened and urged residents not to ‘jump to conclusions.’

That means those returns may not be available for days. 

Other areas appear to have the opposite problem to new technology – the clerk of North Jersey’s Sussex County, which went toward Ciattarelli with 100 percent of precincts reporting, said the county’s aging voting machines made it feel like they were ‘running two separate elections.’

The older machines are unable to integrate early voting numbers into their Election Day tallies, forcing the county to post separate results.

‘Every year it’s a new odyssey. This year early voting is in its infancy, last year was mostly paper ballots. Our results probably came in two hours quicker last year, also because our volume and voter turnout was just much higher this year,’ Clerk Jeffrey Parrott told the Asbury Park Press.   

Also, returns from North Jersey’s Hudson County put Murphy out ahead of Ciattarelli on Wednesday morning – but not by as much as previously thought, thanks to what seems to be a reporting error.

Murphy speaks during an election night event at Grand Arcade at the Pavilion on November 2, 2021 in Asbury Park, New Jersey

Murphy speaks during an election night event at Grand Arcade at the Pavilion on November 2, 2021 in Asbury Park, New Jersey

Murphy speaks during an election night event at Grand Arcade at the Pavilion on November 2, 2021 in Asbury Park, New Jersey

About 6,000 votes were reported out of Hudson, according to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, before he revealed shortly after noon that the count had been a mistake.

‘The early vote was double-counted in Hudson County. It has now been fixed,’ Kornacki wrote on Twitter.

‘The confusion seems to be that the county reported all of its votes (including early) and also provided a separate Early Vote breakout. But it was not clear to media data providers that the numbers from the Early breakout were included in the total vote. That’s what was adjusted.’

Most counts had Murphy roughly 7,000 votes ahead of Ciattarelli as of late Wednesday morning. 

Murphy, a Democrat, was long projected to win in the state that Biden won by nearly 16 points in the presidential election against Donald Trump. But it appears Biden’s unpopularity is having ripple effects for Murphy in the suburbs. 

In Morris County, which Biden won in 2020, Ciattarelli won with 56.8 per cent with 100 per cent reporting compared to Murphy’s 42.6 per cent – a near 15 per cent split.  

Election officials assist a voter checking in to cast a ballot at a polling location in Raritan, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 2. New Jersey's vote count has been plagued by technological issues and 'poll worker error'

Election officials assist a voter checking in to cast a ballot at a polling location in Raritan, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 2. New Jersey's vote count has been plagued by technological issues and 'poll worker error'

Election officials assist a voter checking in to cast a ballot at a polling location in Raritan, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 2. New Jersey’s vote count has been plagued by technological issues and ‘poll worker error’

Hours after the polls closed Tuesday night, former state lawmaker Ciattarelli was leading Murphy by half a percentage point, with 88 per cent of precincts reporting. 

The closeness of the race made the election a surprise nail-biter, in a state President Joe Biden won a year ago by 16 percentage points. 

Murphy had been leading in the polls, has a 1 million-voter registration advantage and had more cash in his campaign coffers than his rival in the final days of the race.

But Ciattarelli has far surpassed the Republican nominee from four years ago in fundraising and has seen the gap in public polls move in his favor – if only by a few points.

At Murphy’s election night party in Asbury Park’s convention hall, the crowd went from cheering early results reported on TV to milling around the cavernous venue and checking their phones. At Ciattarelli’s camp in Bridgewater, the crowd was breaking out into periodic cheers.

Murphy told a crowd of supporters after midnight they would ‘have to wait a little longer than we had hoped.’

‘We’re going to wait for every vote to be counted, and that’s how our democracy works,’ he he told supporters. ‘We’re all sorry that tonight cannot yet be the celebration we wanted it to be.’

He added optimistically: ‘When every vote is counted, and every vote will be counted, we hope to have a celebration.’

At 12:30 a.m., Ciattarelli said he couldn’t yet declare a victory because votes remained to be counted, but said he fully expected to make a victory declaration once that happens. 

‘We’ve sent a message to the entire nation. This is what I love about this state: 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,’ he told the crowd.

‘Sometime real soon, when we can declare unequivocally a victory, we will begin to fix the state of New Jersey and make this state someplace where everyone feels confident they can live, work, retire, start a business, raise a family,’ he added.

Polls closed in New Jersey at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. 

While a Ciattarelli win would send a jolt through state and national politics, a win by Murphy would also break some historical trends.  

Jack Ciattarelli, Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, speaks during an election night event in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 3

Jack Ciattarelli, Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, speaks during an election night event in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 3

Jack Ciattarelli, Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, speaks during an election night event in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 3 

No Democrat has won reelection as governor in New Jersey since Brendan Byrne in 1977, and the party opposite the president’s has won the New Jersey governorship going back to 1985. 

Murphy had long been expected to win, polling more than 10 points ahead of former state lawmaker Jack Ciattarelli in a Monmouth University survey released just last week. 

The state has been reliable for Democrats on the national stage, having gone blue every presidential election since Bill Clinton won in 1992. 

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans there by roughly one million voters.

It’s also the only other state besides Virginia to hold a gubernatorial election the year after a presidential race.

For the last five times Americans elected a new commander-in-chief, New Jersey has elected a governor of the opposite party. 

Murphy speaks to volunteers as he meets with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Election Day

Murphy speaks to volunteers as he meets with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Election Day

Murphy speaks to volunteers as he meets with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Election Day

Murphy shakes hands with Baraka as they greet volunteers during the gubernatorial election in Newark, New Jersey on November 2

Murphy shakes hands with Baraka as they greet volunteers during the gubernatorial election in Newark, New Jersey on November 2

Murphy shakes hands with Baraka as they greet volunteers during the gubernatorial election in Newark, New Jersey on November 2

Murphy rose to power after Donald Trump took the White House, and similarly Republican Chris Christie was elected to state office in 2009 after Barack Obama’s historic victory. 

Ciattarelli had largely focused his campaign on New Jersey’s property taxes – some of the highest in the the country.

Instead of arguing the fact, Murphy sought to make the case to voters that the high penalties deliver more bang for their back.

‘That means the best public schools in America. It means among the best health care systems in America. It means a location second to none that we need to invest aggressively in,’ Murphy told a local NPR station about New Jersey taxes.

Murphy served in the Obama administration as US Ambassador to Germany and successfully beat Christie’s former lieutenant governor to lead the Garden State in 2017. 

And his old boss joined him on the campaign trail this time around. Barack Obama stumped for Murphy in Newark, New Jersey in late October to kick off the state’s first in-person early voting period in its history. 

Murphy has campaigned as a solid progressive, with a record to show for it. He signed bills into law that expanded voting access, provided for taxpayer-funded pre-K and community college, hiked the minimum wage to $15 an hour over time along with opening up the state to renewable energy like wind power.

Ciattarelli’s campaign seized on comments Murphy made that New Jersey probably isn’t for voters whose top issue is taxes, casting the governor as out of touch with a concern many prioritize.

He also sought support from those who disagreed with Murphy’s handling of COVID-19. At a recent campaign rally in Hazlet when someone in the audience asked about mandates, Ciattarelli said there’d be none under his administration – an allusion to mask and vaccination mandates.

He also implicitly criticized critical race theory in schools, saying that ‘we are not going to teach our children to feel guilty.’ Critical race theory is a method of thinking of America’s history through the lens of racism that has become a political lightning rod of the Republican Party.

Ciattarelli participates in a campaign event with local residents on October 27 in Hoboken

Ciattarelli participates in a campaign event with local residents on October 27 in Hoboken

Ciattarelli participates in a campaign event with local residents on October 27 in Hoboken

Polls showed Murphy got solid support for his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, which hit New Jersey hard in early 2020 and resulted in the deaths of more than 25,000 people. About a third of those deaths occurred in nursing and veterans homes. But the state also excelled at getting people vaccinated and was quick to become one of the states with the highest percentages of eligible people to be fully vaccinated.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday evening by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, based on social media posts and local news reports, alleged that dozens of voters were turned away from polls. In some places, that was because electronic tablets used to check in voters struggled to connect to the internet.

The suit, which had sought to extend voting until 9:30 p.m., was denied by the court, the civil rights organization said. A message seeking comment was left with the secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections in the state. 

Rep. Jim Clyburn, who played a large role in Biden securing the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, also appeared for Murphy at a Sunday ‘souls to the polls’ event the following day.

First Lady Jill Biden, who grew up in New Jersey, stumped for Murphy as well.

Ciatarelli supporters wait inside a hotel ballroom at the election night watch party for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Bridgewater, New Jersey

Ciatarelli supporters wait inside a hotel ballroom at the election night watch party for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Bridgewater, New Jersey

Ciatarelli supporters wait inside a hotel ballroom at the election night watch party for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Bridgewater, New Jersey

Supporters of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy cheer as positive results are announced at an election night event in Asbury Park, New Jersey

Supporters of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy cheer as positive results are announced at an election night event in Asbury Park, New Jersey

Supporters of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy cheer as positive results are announced at an election night event in Asbury Park, New Jersey

He’s also accepted help from the progressive wing, hosting Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders for a campaign rally last month.

Ciattarelli, a Republican, has been careful to keep a distance between himself and Trump in order to appeal to suburban voters in the densely-packed Garden State.

The businessman had bested more pro-Trump Republicans in the GOP primary race. 

He also bashed Trump for criticizing late Secretary of State Colin Powell a day after his death and congratulated Biden on his 2020 election victory.

But Murphy and his team worked to paint him as a follower of the former president’s, citing a November 2020 appearance at a Stop the Steal rally. Ciattarelli has said he was unaware that was the event’s purpose.

Murphy’s passed a number of popular reforms during his time leading New Jersey, including tuition-free community college for low-income students.

He’s also signed into law steadily increasing New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 by 2024.

Late last month Murphy landed in hot water when his campaign staff were caught on video telling an undercover Project Veritas reporter about a potential statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate after winning re-election. 

Source: Daily Mail

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