Former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli conceded defeat in New Jersey’s governor’s race on Friday, narrowly losing to incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy.
With the victory, Murphy became the first Democratic governor in New Jersey to win re-election since Brendan Byrne in 1977. With about 2.6 million ballots cast, the governor had a roughly 74,000-vote advantage over Ciattarelli.
“I’ve worked every day and night for 22 months to become New Jersey’s governor,” the New York Post quoted Ciattarelli as saying. “You think I’d be standing here today conceding if I thought I won this election? You couldn’t be more wrong.”
The race was closer than many politicos expected, and most watchers nationwide turned their focus to Virginia’s governor’s election. The state has roughly 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans, and last year, President Joe Biden won New Jersey by 16 percentage points.
Despite the loss at the top of the ticket, Republicans found success elsewhere in the Garden State. In South Jersey’s 3rd District where Republican Edward Durr, a political newcomer, knocked off New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester.
While most media outlets already called the election for Murphy, the Ciattarelli campaign kept an eye on outstanding ballots to see if they might tip the balance in his favor.
“I hate to lose,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Ciattarelli as saying. “But I’m also someone who believes strongly in our republic and our democratic processes. Enough votes have been counted. There does not appear to be a path to victory, or the basis for a recount.”