PHILADELPHIA - Polls have closed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as voters in both states took part in an off-year election that features some key races.
Below are some highlights of key races in our area and some resources for voters.
New Jersey Governor’s Race
Governor Murphy’s first-term agenda and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will face a test from voters on Tuesday.
He’s delivered on many of the promises he made during his first run in 2017: paid sick leave, a phased-in $15 minimum wage, more funding for women’s health care, taxpayer-financed community college, recreational marijuana, and more state aid for education and the public pension — paid for in part by higher taxes on incomes over $1 million and on businesses.
Polls show him leading his challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, who’s making the case that he would lower taxes and put an end to mask and vaccine mandates.
No Democrat has been reelected governor in New Jersey since 1977, and no candidate from the party of the president who won the year before New Jersey’s off-year elections has won the governorship since 1985.
Third-party candidates are also on the ballot. They are Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party, Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party, and Gregg Mele of the Libertarian Party.
New Jersey Ballot Questions
Voters are being asked two questions this year. One asks whether to allow betting on New Jersey college teams or teams from other states whose games are played in New Jersey.
A separate question asks whether organizations that are permitted to hold raffles should be able to keep the money to support themselves.
Currently, only veterans and senior citizen groups may use the net proceeds from those games to support their groups. Other groups that are permitted to conduct raffles may use the proceeds from those games only for certain purposes.
Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Philadelphia, Democrat Larry Krasner won another term as district attorney, beating high-profile criminal defense lawyer Chuck Peruto, the Republican nominee, and getting the go-ahead to continue his progressive overhaul of the office.
"It feels really great. It is wonderful to run on ideas and have people believe in those ideas," Krasner said. "But to run on your achievements and have people not only still believe in those ideas but recognize those achievements is especially rewarding."
Critics have placed the blame on Krasner and other progressive prosecutors for the increase in gun crimes. Supporters have pushed back, noting that rising violence during the pandemic — amid reduced social services and economic instability — are hitting cities with both liberal district attorneys and traditional law-and-order prosecutors.
Krasner, a 60-year-old longtime civil rights and defense attorney, won election in 2017 against a crowded field by billing himself as the outsider candidate capable of making radical change.
Peruto Jr., another longtime defense attorney, announced he would be running against Krasner earlier this year, claiming the incumbent had been too soft on crime. He also stated that he was more fit for the job because he was born and raised in Philadelphia.
Peruto Jr., a former Democrat who previously voted for Krasner, says he changed parties and decided to run because of what he says has been a lack of action on guns and gun violence.
Both candidates spoke briefly to reporters as they hit the polls Tuesday morning. Krasner spoke to FOX 29’s Steve Keeley saying he felt ‘pretty confident’ and addressed concerns about his relationship with the Philadelphia Police Department.
"I just did a press conference yesterday with the mayor and police commissioner in which we were on the same page," Krasner said. "Certainly, there are people within the police department, especially the FOP leadership who are not with us. But, I am proud to say I am not with the Proud Boys. If John McNesby wants to be with the Proud Boys, then I’m not with John McNesby."
FOP Lodge #5 President John McNesby responded to Krasner’s comments in a statement.
"Larry Krasner is once again misleading voters and running away from his failed policies as District Attorney. Murders and violent crime are up and the sitting DA’s top priority remains to demonize rank and file police officers and the FOP so he can win re-election. It’s very sad that Krasner has turned his back on crime victims and won’t work with the Mayor, police and other law enforcement partners to solve our crime epidemic."
Peruto also spoke to reporters after hitting the polls and expressed that he was hopeful and knows ‘what the numbers are’ when it comes to polling.
"If I lose, it’s not going to be because I didn’t work hard," Peruto said. "I’m on no sleep now, I’ve been on no sleep for the last three weeks. So I just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best."
Krasner and Peruto recently sat down with FOX 29’s Jason Martinez to discuss Tuesday’s election and their positions on the issues the District Attorney’s Office has and will face. You can watch both interviews in the video players above.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Pennsylvania voters are set to fill four open seats on statewide courts with candidates who could eventually help settle major cases on issues from abortion to elections.
The marquee contest in Tuesday's election is for an open seat on Pennsylvania's highest court. The state Supreme Court race is between Maria McLaughlin, a Democrat, and Kevin Brobson, a Republican.
Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican, is not running for another term because he turned 75 in 2021, and Pennsylvania judges must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they turn 75.
Major cases currently in the court include abortion, education funding, mail-in voting, the 2020 Presidential election, redistricting, and mask mandates.