After a close race as part of the election on Tuesday, November 2, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy defeated Republican Jack Ciattarelli by a margin of less than 1%. The winner candidate, who took office in 2017, thus becomes the first Democrat to be re-elected as governor of New Jersey in 44 years.
“We just had the most New Jersey experience. I was on my way some place, and it took us longer to get here than we planned. As a matter of fact, some might say it took 44 years to get here,” he told the crowd of more than 200 inside the Grand Arcade on Asbury Park’s iconic boardwalk.
It was a moment of triumph after 24 hours of anxiety for Murphy, who squeaked out a win over Ciattarelli, leading by only 19,440 votes votes ,or less than a percentage point ,when the AP called the race early Wednesday evening.
As reported by nj.com, Murphy’s victory avoids a second defeat for Democrats, who lost the state of Virginia, where Terry McAuliffe was seeking to return to the office he held from 2014-2018, and was unable to beat Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Despite his slim win, the governor did not shy away from touting how he has pushed New Jersey in a more progressive direction the last four years. But he also suggested he would listen to all residents in his second term.
“If you want to know what the future looks like, come to New Jersey,” Murphy said in his brief speech. “If you want to understand where America is heading, look to New Jersey. And, if you want to be governor for all of New Jersey, you must listen to all of New Jersey. And New Jersey, I hear you.”
You can read: NJ race for governor: a virtually even election
“So tonight, I renew my promise to you , whether you voted for me or not , to work every single day of the next four years to keep moving us forward,” the Governor added. “Forward with renewed optimism to ensure greater opportunities for all 9.3 million who call this great state home.”
A voter thermometer
This year’s elections are seen as a thermometer of voter feelings since Biden has been in the White House, and the results precede the 2022 midterms, where Democrats will try to maintain the narrow majorities they hold in Congress.
Ciattarelli, a candidate who won the nomination despite opposition from the Republican sector that remains loyal to former President Donald Trump, ran a campaign in which he said he was not opposed to vaccines, but he does oppose health measures that force government employees to be vaccinated in order to continue working.
Murphy’s campaign emphasized progressive achievements during his first four years as governor, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, sick leave for workers and the legalization of marijuana.