The race for governor of N.J. is still too close to call on Wednesday, as incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy faced off in a dead heat against his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli. The election on Tuesday brought an approximate 2.5 million N.J. residents to the polls, with 88% of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning. When will we know who won?
Phil Murphy currently leads by seven thousand votes, which is only a 0.3% difference. 12% of the vote has yet to be counted, with areas in Camden, Passaic, and Mercer still counting. These areas are expected to lean more Democrat, as well as some left-leaning mail-in ballots that The New York Times reported have still yet to be comments.
Election results will be announced, hopefully, once enough votes have been counted on Wednesday to give one candidate a more sizable lead, but it’s always possible that the other may call for a recount if the numbers are still very close.
Though they failed to make a true dent in the N.J. Governor race, independent candidates Madelyn Hoffman, Gregg Mele, and Joanne Kuniansky, were able to secure over 17,600 votes total as well (a little under just 0.74% of the vote).
Taking the stage Tuesday night as Asbury Park’s Convention Hall, incumbent Governor Democrat Phil Murphy, 64, told supporters that “We’re all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration that we wanted it to be… but as I said: When every vote is counted — and every vote will be counted — we hope to have a celebration again.”
For highly contested states such as New Jersey, local elections after a Presidential cycle tend to swing in the opposite direction of who won the Presidency. Since Joe Biden won the White House, and Phil Murphy was in charge during the Coronavirus pandemic, many angry Republicans felt motivated to go out and vote.
Republican Jack Ciattarelli, 59, brought out over a million Republicans to the polls on Tuesday, greatly outperforming many analysts predictions about the conservative challenger.
According to The New York Times, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 1.1 million voters in the state of New Jersey. Either those voters did not show up to the polls, or they swung over to vote for Ciattrelli.
“We have sent a message to the entire country,” Jack Ciattrarelli said from his stage 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.”
“I wanted to come out here tonight because I prepared one hell of a victory speech,” Ciattarelli said. “I wanted to come out here tonight because we won. But I’m here to tell you that we’re winning.”
Governor Phil Murphy, an affluent former Goldman Sachs executive and United States Ambassador to Germany under President Obama, took a lot of heat during the pandemic for his policies regarding Covid-19 restrictions and mask mandates. In May, he was one of the last governors to repeal the indoor mask mandate.
When New York required all teachers and government workers to submit to mandatory vaccinations, bordering state New Jersey was also one of the first to follow suit.
Republican assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli made Murphy’s handling of the pandemic his biggest talking point, pointing to the 1.2 million cases and over 28,000 deaths due to Covid-19 complications.
The pandemic hurt the state’s economy, like it did for most states, which Ciattarelli blamed on Phil Murphy’s policies, forcing schools and small businesses to close in early lockdown orders.
Thousands of votes have yet to be counted, but voters are expected to know who wins the race for governor of N.J. by Wednesday night at the latest.