Despite the Associated Press calling the New Jersey gubernatorial race for Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday evening, challenger Jack Ciattarelli had yet to concede as of early Thursday afternoon. AP said it called the race, “when a new batch of votes from Republican-leaning Monmouth County increased Murphy’s lead and closed the door to a Ciattarelli comeback”. The video above shows Gov. Murphy’s victory speech, as well as Ciatarelli’s response.
“With the candidates separated by a fraction of a percent out of 2.4 million ballots cast, it’s irresponsible of the media to make this call when the New Jersey Secretary of State doesn’t even know how many ballots are left to be counted,” Ciattarelli spokesperson Stami Williams said on Twitter in response to AP’s call.
A major reason Ciattarelli has yet to concede is that the gubernatorial race is much closer than expected. The GOP candidate raised nearly as much money as Gov. Murphy. Murphy’s win serves as a silver lining for Democrats after GOP businessman Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Murphy’s win was also historic.
“I am humbled to be the first Democratic governor re-elected in the great state of New Jersey since my dear friend, the late governor Brendan Byrne, did this in 1977,” Murphy said in a victory speech Wednesday night. “Thank you for putting your trust in our team for another four years.”
Murphy will have a new Senate president in his state’s legislature after a shocking upset was called Thursday. Republican furniture company truck driver Edward Durr ousted longtime Democratic State Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“It is stunning and shocking and I cannot figure it out,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said in an interview. The upset threw the selection of party leadership into limbo, with Sweeney expected to return as Senate president. A meeting that was set for Thursday had to be postponed.
What was even more surprising about the upset was how Durr did it. According to an Election Law Enforcement Commission document filed online on Thursday, Durr only spent $2,300 on his campaign. Earlier reports had said he only spent $153.31. In an interview with NJ.com, Durr described how unlikely he viewed his victory to be.
“I joked with people and I said, ‘I’m going to shock the world, I’m going to beat this man,’” Durr said Wednesday afternoon. “I was saying it, but really kind of joking. Because what chance did a person like me really stand against this man? He’s literally the second-most powerful person in the state of New Jersey.”
It’s unclear who will become the next Senate president. If Democrats maintain control of the chamber, as incomplete results show they could do, then Democratic senators will meet to choose their next leader.
Coming into Election Day, Democrats had controlled the state Assembly with 52 seats to Republicans’ 28. In the state Senate, Democrats had 25 seats to the Republicans’ 15.