NEW JERSEY — New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy narrowly won re-election, but Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli implied he was not conceding the race yet in a post on Twitter.
As of Thursday evening, the pair were separated by more than 44,000 votes with 99 percent of ballots reported. The state has not yet counted all vote-by-mail and provisional ballots.
“No one should be declaring victory or conceding the election until every legal vote is counted,” Ciattarelli said.
Ballots remaining to be counted included a significant number of votes from predominantly Democratic Essex County, along with mail-in votes spread across other counties. Murphy has won the mail-in vote by a wide margin even in Republican leaning counties like Monmouth.
Ciattarelli spokesperson Stami Williams disputed the call because of the close margin, calling it “irresponsible.”
Murphy delivered a brief speech in Asbury Park’s boardwalk convention hall, nodding to the race’s narrow margin by saying he would work for both those who voted for and against him. But there was no trace he planned to scale back the left-leaning positions he’s taken during his first term.
“We shall be judged in the long run not by how we fared in elections, but by what we did as an administration,” Murphy said, quoting Brendan Byrne, the last Democratic governor to be reelected in the state. “Those words will always remind us to always, always, always keep moving forward.”
Ciattarelli described Murphy’s speech as “premature.”
The closeness of the race surprised experts, who watched public polls showing Murphy leading comfortably and looked to his party’s registration advantage.
Voters came out at much higher rates for Ciattarelli this year than they did for his GOP predecessor in 2017. While campaigning, he walked a line between standing up for the moderate stances he had in the Legislature — like supporting Roe v. Wade — and appealing to Republicans who embraced Trump, particularly on cultural issues that have captured attention across the country.