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RARITAN, N.J.— Ten days after Election Day, and nine days after the AP called the race for New Jersey Governor, Republican Jack Ciattarelli conceded.

Ciattarelli, however, did something not seen from many Republicans in the age of Donald Trump. He defended the integrity of the election, including voting by mail.

“I called Governor Murphy earlier today and congratulated him on his reelection, and wished him well in serving the people of New Jersey,” Ciattarelli said.

The former Assemblyman appeared close to defeating Democratic Governor Phil Murphy on election night. However, in the days that followed with mail in votes being counted, he fell behind by around three percent.

“I hate to lose,” Ciattarelli said. “But I am also someone who believe strongly in our republic and democratic processes. Enough votes have been counted. There does not appear to be a path to victory or the basis for a recount, nor do we know of any systemic or widespread fraud.  So no, I see no proof this election was stolen.”

In fact, Ciattarelli said his party needs to lean into vote-by-mail, which many Republicans say without evidence is a source of fraud.

PIX11 News pressed Ciattarelli on why it took him so long to concede. Democrats, like Terry McAuliffe in Virginia, conceded even closer races more quickly.

Ciattarelli pointed to counting in New Jersey continuing into this week and called for reform to that process.

“Sadly in our current climate, that slow count and constantly changing online numbers gives rise to doubt in the system and unfounded conspiracy theories,” he said. “That isn’t healthy. The fact that we are ten days past election, and votes are still being counted is a problem.  For every close election to come, voters do deserve better.”

Ciattarelli did not officially declare, but did make clear his intention to run for governor again in four years. He said he has no interest in federal office including next year’s midterm elections.