New Jersey governor's race remains too close too call as ballots continue to be counted

Election works are still counting provisional and mail-in ballots

Updated: November 3, 2021 - 10:23am

The race for the governorship of New Jersey remains too close to call early Wednesday as first-term Democrat Phil Murphy fights to hold on to his seat.

The challenge by Republican Jack Ciattarelli created a tighter-than-expected vote count as GOP candidates showed feats of political strength Tuesday night up-and-down tickets in several states.

"We have sent a message to the entire country. 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," Ciattarelli told a room full of his supporters at about 12:30 a.m.

Both candidates told their election-night party crowds that the results of the election would not be clear until all provisional and vote-by-mail ballots were counted.

At 4 a.m. on Wednesday, the candidates remained in a dead heat, with about 12% of votes still to be counted. 

"We're all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration that we wanted it to be," Murphy said. "When every vote is counted – and every vote will be counted – we hope to have a celebration again."

The biggest Election Day win for Republicans was clearly nominee Glenn Youngkin winning the Virginia governor's race over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The razor thin margin dividing Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, and Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman who outperformed every poll conducted during the campaign, has made it clear that voters are extremely divided on the policies implemented during Murphy's first term. 

Murphy ran on much the same progressive agenda that he executed during his first time, which included raising taxes, climate change policy, racial equity initiatives, and some of the country's harshest COVID-19 restrictions. He was also one the the country's last governors to repeal an indoor mask mandate.

Ciattarelli ran a campaign based around Murphy's pandemic restrictions, which led to, among other things, the continued disruption of the education of the state's 1.3 million public school students and the crippling of small businesses around the state.

Ciattarelli additionally took a stance against vaccine mandates and mandatory masking in schools. His surprisingly strong showing on Tuesday indicates that his message resonated with voters in a state in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 1 million.