On Wednesday night, the Associated Press called the New Jersey governor’s election for incumbent Phil Murphy. Murphy barely squeaked by his opponent; for most of Tuesday night, as election results were tallied, Murphy and his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, were tied at 49.6%.
The Associated Press decided to call the election for Murphy late Wednesday evening, citing any remaining votes to be counted were likely to come from counties that typically vote Democrat. Most of New Jersey’s voters are registered Democrats; Joe Biden carried the state by fifteen points in the 2020 elections.
Ciattarelli carried a lead overnight Tuesday of about 1,000 votes. Remaining votes that were still being tabulated on Wednesday would give the incumbent governor the votes he needed to hold on to the seat. However, just a month ago, the governor had a 20 point lead over his Republican challenger, so the tight race was quite surprising for many.
The Garden State saw several upsets on Tuesday, including the election of a truck driver who spent a mere $153 on his campaign. Edward Durr took to Facebook, and he defeated the Senate President Steve Sweeney.
The truck driver victory as well as several other upsets in the Garden State have the country reeling, especially considering the Glenn Youngkin win in New Jersey.
Ciattarelli’s campaign ridiculed the AP’s move to call the race; the Republican’s supporters called the move “irresponsible” and said the AP made the call “too quickly.”
Murphy won the post in 2017, defeating his opponent in that election by 14 points. As recently as one month ago, Murphy held a twenty point lead over Ciattarelli. However, the tight race was unexpected in what has typically been a “cobalt blue” state.
Although Murphy did not receive the media attention that disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo did for the same decision, Murphy ordered nursing homes in New Jersey to readmit patients who were still recovering from COVID-19. His critics say that Murphy’s decision to do so led to unnecessary loss of life.
Other critics point to Murphy’s refusal to do something with New Jersey’s high tax rates; they are the highest in the nation. Murphy once quipped, “(if) you’re a one-issuer voter and tax rate is your issue, we’re probably not your state.”
However, the tight race may have served to get Murphy’s attention. Late Tuesday night, Murphy promised he would “spend the next four years helping people in the state achieve their American dream.”
Murphy also said: “For almost four years now, our focus has not been on trying to do more for those who already have much, but to do much for those in the middle and at the bottom so that they have more opportunity . . .Our mission has been simple to build a state where every child, regardless of race or gender, creed or zip code, has the opportunity to live out their hopes and achieve their American dream.”