Republican Jack Ciattarelli conceded in the New Jersey gubernatorial election on Friday, narrowly missing out on an upset of incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy.
“I called Gov. Murphy earlier today and congratulated him on his reelection and wished him well on serving the people of New Jersey,” Ciattarelli said, making the announcement in Raritan, NJ.
“There were those who thought I couldn’t win, there were those who told me I wouldn’t win. Fact is, we almost did win,” he added.
“We sent a powerful message to Trenton and although it was never my intention, we sent a very powerful message to the nation,” Ciattarelli noted. “Our message is simple: We’re tired of hyper partisanship, tired of divisiveness, tired of tone deafness, tired of dismissing citizens’ real concerns.”
Murphy, the first Democrat incumbent to be reelected as governor in years, was expected to defeat his Republican challenger handily, but the final margin was tighter than what many predicted. Murphy was declared the victor with 51% of the vote, while Ciattarelli took about 48%.
“To those who are disappointed that I’m conceding, to those whose faith in our election system is shaken, to those who are angry that I’m not asking for a recount today, let me say this: I’ve worked every day and night for 22 months to become New Jersey’s governor,” he said, “If you think I’d be standing here today conceding if I thought I’d won this election, you couldn’t be more wrong. I hate to lose.”
Although he criticized the vote-counting process, he acknowledged that he had no proof of “widespread voter fraud.”
“Sadly in our current climate, that slow count and constantly changing online numbers gives rise to doubt in the system and unfounded conspiracy theories. The fact that we are 10 days past the election and votes are still being counted is a problem for every close election to come,” Ciattarelli said.
The Associated Press projected Murphy would win the race nine days ago after a batch of ballots from a Republican county “increased Murphy’s lead and closed the door to a Ciattarelli comeback,” reports the outlet.
The count was slow, in part, because of the mail-in ballots that had yet to be counted on election night.
“At one point in the early morning hours of Nov. 3 — shortly after the Murphy campaign directed those at a planned victory celebration in Asbury Park to go home — Ciattarelli held a 42,000 vote lead over the governor with 98 percent of precincts reporting,” Politico reported. “That total did not include hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, the counting of which reversed that margin in Murphy’s favor.”
Ciattarelli said that he was not done with New Jersey politics and that he planned on running again in the next governor’s race in four years.
Several of his colleagues fared better, with Republicans picking up four seats in the assembly and one senate seat.
“People are frustrated with labor shortages and a state government that can’t deliver basic services like getting an unemployment check or scheduling an appointment with the MVC, despite paying nation-high taxes,” incoming Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio said, according to The Middletown Press.
Some Democrats in the state disagreed, pointing to national politics to explain their poor performance. One New Jersey Democrat running for assembly, John Burzichelli, blamed Democrat losses on the unpopularity of President Biden.
“This was clearly an emotional vote influenced by the news out of Washington because there’s no local news,” he said.
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